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Case Study: The Direct Route Back-to-School

Date: June, 2014 -- out for the summer signaling it’s officially time to start planning your back-to-school and other Fall mail promotions. This being the case, we decided to share one of the most effective, and affecting, pieces of communication we have ever read. Sent by Nestle Co. to members of its loyalty club in the country of  Malaysia, this DMA Echo winner reminds us of the power direct mail can have. Although this campaign was addressed to mothers of early school age children, the lessons to be drawn go well beyond that population. This case study was assembled by Data Services, Inc. in cooperation with our friends at The Prescott Report

From a customer database in its loyalty program developed over the years, Nestle selected 4,416 households with children aged 7 who would start school for the very first time that year. The company sent a mailer in the 2 weeks before school with relevant topics and well-timed advice on school preparation tips, quick meal ideas, nutritional information and even a checklist to mothers who were then frantically preparing their children for school. 

We’ve included a picture of the envelope, which resembles a child’s pencil case and a few other pieces of the package. Inside each “case”, Mom is given a warm note from Nestle’s own Consumer Services Manager relating her own emotions on sending her young son off to school. The kids themselves get some colorful fun stickers to personalize their stationery.

Now, observe that there is no product offer, although there are some tasteful product snack suggestions. The real emphasis is on the new experience of mother-child separation and the emotions around that. It is otherwise only a pressure-free loyalty club relationship mailing. There is no response device, no call to action, no coupons, no account statement, no pressure.  There are only helpful tips, little toys for the kids, a moving message from the company, and some modest and tasteful suggestions on possible snacks for when the kids come home, Nestle brand, of course.

The response was truly remarkable, and goes straight to brand identity and building long-term loyalty.   The mailing did not solicit any action or response whatsoever, and didn’t even include a reply card or envelope.  And, yet, the company received 200 letters from mothers. A response rate of 4.5% to a mailing that did not ask for a response. 

One letter said, in part, “I was shocked plus excited because you really keep track of my family”…”because no one advised me before about how to prepare myself and my son for his first day at school.”  

Another mother wrote, “You motivate me in bringing up my family.”

Two letters were from parents who had lost spouses and were going through a difficult period. They wrote to share how Nestle helped them cope single-handedly and to say that Nestle was more than just a favorite brand, but a true confidant and friend.

What do we learn here?  With a database that effective,  a customer base that responsive and emotional, and a brand-image of this nature, Nestle has a very powerful franchise, and an enormous ethical and increasingly legal responsibility to not misuse that data or abuse that trust. Relevance, results, and responsibility.

Data Services fully understands that you are often dealing with powerful emotional forces in this profession, and that we all have grave and serious obligations to those whose personal information we do indeed hold “in trust”. Look to the international data management experts at Data Services, Inc. to help you fulfill your obligation to those whose personal information you hold in trust, and which must be managed, treated, and secured appropriately.