Jun 3, 2014

Portuguese city gets big result with little box

Well-targeted marketing can have extraordinary impacts on public transport use: Almada, Portugal, provides an example of a direct mail campaign that coincided with a 13 percent increase in public transport patronage.

Almada’s mobility welcome kit, a gift box containing public transport tickets, timetables and gadgets, was presented as a good example in Burgos, Spain, at the launch event for SmartMove. Presenter Joao Cleto, project coordinator for the Local Energy Management Agency of Almada (AGENEAL), presented the activity as a good example for SmartMove, despite the fact that is is not precisely active mobility consultancy.

Almada’s mobility welcome kit, modelled on a similar concept in Munich, was sent out in 2012 to 600 new residents of Almada. The recipients were identified by the local water utility company – which provided the city with a list of the latest households to sign a contract for water services.

The campaign followed a methodology known as marketing segmentation. The idea is that a segment of consumers who have just made a major lifestyle change (e.g. moving house) might be receptive to making other big changes, such as modifying their travel habits. They need to be targeted immediately, before establishing new (unsustainable) travel patterns.

The welcome kits included a letter from the mayor as well as information and free tickets for all the city’s major public transport providers: bus and tram services as well as the ferry service across the Tagus River to Lisbon.

The campaign received widespread media coverage – mainly because it was the first time that public transport had been promoted in this way in Portugal.

A measure evaluation is under way involving a direct questionnaire sent to kit recipients to find out how their travel habits have changed. Although the results of this analysis are still pending, the city has already determined that, in the wake of the measure, public transport use has risen by 13 percent while car use had dropped by 6 percent. On the down side, the number of pedestrians has fallen by 8 percent.

For more information, please watch our video presentation: Example 1: Almada's mobility campaigns