Disney-owned superhero brand Marvel Entertainment is enjoying an unprecedented run of success at the box office through its Avengers-themed film properties. Now the brand hopes to leverage that success by building fan engagement with its digital and mobile properties. Enter Marvel Insider, which Marvel hopes will grow that engagement with the right mix of loyalty incentives.
The programme is a typical engagement-themed construction that rewards fans with points for reading news on Marvel.com, linking social media accounts, watching movie trailers, and checking in at theatres showing Marvel films. The programme offers four tiers based on accumulated points levels, with rewards ranging from Marvel-branded trinkets to deluxe comics and merchandise. There are no rewards for reading comic books, however - which may mean Marvel has yet to solve the difficulty of recording print purchases from independent comics retailers, or which may mean that comic sales are so low that they're immaterial to Marvel's bottom line.
By focusing their programme on digital and mobile activity, Marvel seems content with building brand engagement without tying loyalty programme investment to actual customer spend. The brass ring for Marvel would be to understand what segments of Marvel's fan base spends in each product category, and then to leverage the programme to encourage cross-sell.
We may presume, for instance, that Marvel comic book readers all go see Marvel films. But how many fans of Marvel's films also read comic books? Could Marvel leverage the programme with young consumers to grow the next generation of print comic readers? How much overlap is there between Marvel's film and television audiences? There's tremendous potential for programme that identifies total brand spend and then rewards fans for cross-product activity, sort of like an umbrella Marvel-oriented coalition programme.
The current programme, which only rewards digital engagement, won't get Marvel there. Still, every great loyalty strategy has to begin somewhere, and Marvel has proven tremendously adept at building a premium entertainment brand. On the loyalty front, Marvel's task will be to devise metrics to determine programme ROI, and to continue to invest in the programme to make it more effective. We'll be excited to see where they take Marvel Insider.