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Groupe Aeroplan , the corporate entity that began as Air Canada's frequent-flier program, is losing some of its own baggage.

On Wednesday, the company announced it is changing its name to Aimia in a bid to better encapsulate the suite of loyalty management services it offers across the world. The rebranding also helps clear up confusion in Canada between its corporate identity and the domestic loyalty program it operates, which is known simply as Aeroplan. That program is unaffected by the move, as are its other consumer programs in the 15 international territories where it operates, including Nectar (in the U.K., Italy, and Chile), Mexico's Club Premier and Air Miles in the Middle East.

Its business-to-business brands – LMG Insight & Communication, acquired in 2007, and Carlson Marketing, acquired in 2009 – will now operate as Aimia. On Friday, company executives will ring the opening bell at the Toronto Stock Exchange as they announce its new ticker symbol, AIM.

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The company's president and chief executive officer, Rupert Duchesne, said the new name "demonstrates much more clearly the global powerhouse that we have become."

And it is intended to ease a continuing global expansion, as the company eyes activities in high-growth markets such as South America and Asia-Pacific. The name Aeroplan is unknown outside of Canada, and does not help sell potential clients on Aimia's three primary areas of business: coalition loyalty programs (such as Aeroplan and Nectar), creating proprietary loyalty programs and loyalty analytics (otherwise known as data mining).

"When you're not explaining legacy brands that have come from what you've built up over a period of five or six years, it makes that conversation easier," Mr. Duchesne said. "Having a single recognizable brand that says everything about you – who you are and what you provide – is the way to go."

During the announcement on Wednesday at the MaRS Centre for innovation in Toronto, Aimia released a study about the attitudes of so-called millennials (people born between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s) toward loyalty marketing. "Going forward, you'll see more and more of this type of research," Mr. Duchesne pledged. "I believe data-driven insights and loyalty thought-leadership will become synonymous with our new brand."

Aimia executives believe the new name, which was chosen from "thousands and thousands" proposed by the global branding firm Interbrand, calls to mind the "focus and precision" the company claims to have in targeting consumers. The Montreal-based company, which helps create relationships between brands and consumers, hopes the name also evokes the French word for "friend."





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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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