Page 4: Relationship marketing
In her influential 1991 book ‘The Popcorn Report’, the American marketing guru Faith Popcorn charts the rise of consumer bonding or relationship marketing. The principles she identifies are particularly relevant to Heinz’ move into direct marketing - eg:
'We do need to build relationships with our customers, to create a dialogue, expose them to our corporate values, establish a bond based on something more deep-seated than product quality, brand image or even simply meeting consumer needs.'
'At Home' has enabled Heinz to develop a genuine ongoing dialogue with consumers. The magazine is particularly useful for bringing information on new products to the attention of consumers in a relevant and motivating way.
Getting the approach right
The move into direct marketing by Heinz was not a ‘shot in the dark’. Rather it built on existing Heinz experience and understanding of markets. For example, Heinz had built up experience of database direct marketing to new mothers, through its 'Baby at Home' within their Infant Feeding business. The signs were very clear that this was a powerful way forward.
Today, information technology has given ‘intelligent organisations’ the potential to build a competitive edge through relationship marketing. The costs of investing in IT can be spread quickly over large outputs. For example, in 1996 it was 500 times cheaper to process an item of information than it was in 1976.