Affinity Marketing, Texas-Style

If you can co-brand mobile phone service, bank cards, and vacation cruises, why not power? An innovative energy company in Texas has teamed up with the state’s universities to offer co-branded energy – electricity and natural gas.

As reported in Advertising Age, in return for subscribing to the affinity program, those power consumers get to accumulate points for school merchandise, tickets to athletic events and more.

Diehard Longhorns, Aggies and loyal Texans statewide can also contribute to the state’s growing renewable energy economy. The power company who’s behind this novel branding campaign, Champion Energy Services is supposedly providing branded power companies with renewable energy. In this case, it’s Dallas-based Branded Retail Energy who’s driving the affinity deal, and every Texas fan that opens an account contributes to a sustainability initiative for either Texas A&M or UT.

Affinity branding succeeds in a very narrow but loyal channel — be it alumni, members, enthusiasts, or employees of a large organization. (Costco started out as a discount warehouse for students and staff at area colleges in San Diego) Affinity buyers grab the chance to give back or get an inside track on deals while consuming something they’d be buying anyway. They’re concentrated, easy to find, and often have high household disposable incomes. Sound like shooting fish in a barrel to you?

With 14 states across the country having deregulated the power industry, including well-populated states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, expect this affinity branding concept to catch on quickly, via those states’ university systems.

See also Fast Company.

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