AI-based Digital Marketing to Attract More Ferry Customers - MOL Group

Who Yearns for Ocean Cruises?

Unlike train journeys, cruises give travelers an extraordinarily relaxing experience. Still, many may feel awkward about joining an ocean cruise despite their yearning to do so.

Ferries which have “Sunflower(s)” on their name, operated by two subsidiary companies of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines(MOL) mentioned below, offers casual cruises in which passengers can enjoy a cruise while wearing casual clothes.

MOL Ferry Co., Ltd. runs ferries between the Tokyo Metropolitan area (Oarai) and Hokkaido, while Ferry Sunflower Ltd. runs ferries between Honshu (Kobe, Osaka) and Kyushu daily. MOL group are going to replace four ferries to newly built ones within coming two years. MOL Ferry is scheduled to start operation of new Sunflower Furano in May 2017 and new Sunflower Sapporo in autumn 2017. Ferry Sunflower is scheduled to start operation of new ferries new Sunflower Satsuma and new Sunflower Kirishima between Kansai and southern Kyushu in 2018. In this way, the attractiveness of ocean cruising continues to increase.

A superior suite cabin of new ferry Sunflower Furano

To enable many people, including both those who have and have not used ferries, to learn about casual cruises, the MOL Group thought it necessary to develop more accurate marketing measures, such as providing information that meets customers’ needs. To this end, the Group launched a digital marketing initiative, the first in the domestic ferry business, with the help of Fujitsu Limited and Fujitsu Research Institute.

Analyzing Blogs, Web Access Histories, and Other Data Sources to Appeal to Ferry Lovers

In this initiative, Fujitsu Limited and Fujitsu Research Institute are integrating and analyzing big data using AI (Artificial Intelligence). Specifically, we first create data using the DMP (Data Management Platform) Integration Service, Fujitsu's data analysis platform, based on the website access histories of MOL Ferry and Ferry Sunflower as well as information from key systems while keeping individuals’ data anonymized; we then integrate and analyze the data.

We also use Customer Behavior Analysis Service Do-Cube, a bog analysis tool offered by Fujitsu Research Institute. Do-Cube estimates the attributes of blog writers by analyzing blog data using AI and extracts their characteristics, such as behaviors and backgrounds. With this tool, we can analyze blog posts written about ferries and investigate the trends in daily behaviors of those who prefer ferry cruises.

In this way, data analyzed and integrated by DMP and Do-Cube can be analyzed with the machine learning technology of Fujitsu’s AI platform Human Centric AI Zinrai and BI (Business Intelligence) tools.

System Diagram

Raising Awareness of Ferries by Tailoring Marketing to Customer Needs — Delivering the Charm of Casual Cruises Nationwide

Quarterly “Daytime Setouchi Cruising” offered by Ferry Sunflower

Thus, based on analysis results obtained using Fujitsu’s AI technology, the ages, genders, and other attributes of people who prefer ferry journeys as well as their characteristics and needs can be derived. MOL, MOL Ferry, and Ferry Sunflower will develop marketing measures, including those for providing information through websites tailored to the needs of each attribute, and make attractive advertisements to reach those who have not yet experienced a ferry.

Going forward, together with the MOL Group, Fujitsu Limited and Fujitsu Research Institute will continue to inform more people about the attractiveness of casual cruises provided by Sunflower using Fujitsu’s digital marketing technology and expertise in order to raise awareness about casual cruises in Japan.