The different dimensions of affordability

Virgin Trains

Case study

"Incite have had a phenomenal positive impact on the Virgin Trains East Coast business over the last year, through a number of key strategic projects that they have undertaken. Their commercial astuteness and business-centric approach, paired with their passion to go above and beyond make Incite an indispensable extension of our team. They never fail to impress and have gained strong trust across the senior team. Their recent work on breaking down our affordability barrier has resulted in us dramatically altering our marketing communications, trialling a new ticket pricing structure and working to overhaul the future of rail ticketing!"

Clare Marks, Head of Research & Insight

"Our main recommendations focused on the ways in which Virgin Trains can improve customers’ perceptions of the cost of train travel."

The multifaceted ‘affordability’ issue had been identified as one of the biggest barriers to train usage. The challenge was about more than competing for lowest prices, so Virgin Trains needed to understand how to best communicate the value of the train to compete with the cheaper alternative: the car.

We investigated the different dimensions of affordability. This included price modelling across key routes, optimising marketing messages and testing a new way of ticketing to try to reduce complexity for the customer.

Our main recommendations focused on the ways in which Virgin Trains can improve customers’ perceptions of the cost of train travel. To encourage consideration, we recommended moving away from a focus on very low fares which were difficult to access and counter to the actual customer experience of price.

We helped them to build an action tool kit of marketing messages, pricing strategies and ways to ‘add value’ in order to re-frame the decision for consumers away from the lowest priced option for travel and towards a cost-benefit equation.