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This month, Alaska Airlines appealed to surfers by offering discounts on flights to Hawaii based on the size of ocean waves. The airline teamed up with wave forecasting site to determine the discount amounts (which ranged from 10-30% off); bigger swells resulted in bigger discounts. Alaska Airlines updated the prices twice per day, as they received the latest wave updates from Alaska Airlines’ limited-time promotion, from November 4-8, reached surfers during a popular surfing season. The company has marketed to surfers previously by offering a surfboard luggage charge of only USD 30 (the same price most airlines offer to bring a standard suitcase). 

The waves are rising, and so are consumers’ expectations! Here are two key takeaways to consider:

TRIBEFACTURING. We won’t name names, but you’ve undoubtedly seen brands marketing to consumers based primarily on their generation; designing ‘millennial this’ or ‘Gen Z that.’ But to market to a mass of people based on broad assumptions about their demographic is to risk missing more relevant targets. Rather than marketing to a demographic, Alaska Airlines has pinpointed a group based on a shared passion. That group has a unique consumption pattern: surfers looking to catch some waves during prime surf season. We previously wrote about The Night Feed, an app that also reaches a group in a specific circumstance, at a specific time - new mothers who are breastfeeding at night. Think beyond demographics. Can you market to tribes characterized by clear passions, behaviors and circumstances? 

Creative with data. Number-crunching doesn’t have to be boring. Alaska Airlines has turned data on wave fluctuations into a campaign that engages surfers and encourages them to keep checking back in to see how waves (and discounts) have risen or fallen. One of our favorite creative uses of data in marketing was back in 2016, when Spotify showcased surprising listener behaviors in a global billboard initiative (paywall). Can you showcase data relevant to your industry in a way that delights your customer and seizes their attention? One caveat: make sure your stats are real - Revolut was busted for faking its Spotify-like campaign. Don’t have interesting, proprietary data? Partner up with a data-savvy firm (like to inspire your campaign!