Special Report Tama Marketer of the Year: And the finalists are… Hughes has facts and figures

Terry HughesPresidentHughes Rapp CollinsInformation spills out of Terry Hughes a mile a minute - 2% of customers spend 20% of the dollars, 5% fork out 35% and 10% represent a cool 50% of your business.That's just the retail grocery industry.Hughes quotes...

Terry Hughes


Hughes Rapp Collins

Information spills out of Terry Hughes a mile a minute – 2% of customers spend 20% of the dollars, 5% fork out 35% and 10% represent a cool 50% of your business.

That’s just the retail grocery industry.

Hughes quotes similarly tantalizing figures for others.

If you’re in beer, 7% of the populace sloshes down an astonishing 60% of your goods.

Wouldn’t you just give your left whatever to get in tight with these groups? For a market base that small, you could practically send them all birthday cards. And, if Hughes has his way, that’s a distinct possibility.

His company is arguably the top player in database marketing, though he’s more likely to refer to ‘creating and applying intellectual capital,’ or, ‘information-based marketing solutions.’

And, for marketers of no-matter-what, Hughes has this admonition.

‘You’re not in the grocery/ gasoline (whatever) business, you’re in the information management business,’ he says.

‘Enhanced market capital is a function of an enhanced strategic planning process, which is a function of enhanced information.’

His company claims intimate knowledge of 16 million Canadians. Better close that bathroom door from now on.

Such omniscience allows Hughes to talk of ‘profit share,’ not market share.

And to claim a paradigm shift in which we can now identify the customer, modify behavior and customize communications to become more relevant.

Part of that custom offering to a high profile customer might be ‘psychic rewards:’ a personalized cash receipt; a thank you note for loyalty; or a bump-up to First Class once in a while.

Direct mail, too, can be personalized en masse as it’s printed through ‘customized variable-text messaging.’

We’re moving from an economy of inducement marketing to one of reward marketing. From mass marketing to intimate interaction.

He talks of ‘unbundling the customer base,’ ‘crafting relationships,’ ‘high profit customers,’ even ‘customer-specific pricing’ – already in place at some retailers.

He observes that retailers can already reap huge benefits by offering nothing more elaborate than dialogue.

Put bluntly: ‘You don’t lose people because of price. You lose them because you pissed them off in some way. Find out how you pissed them off, and they’ll return.’

Hughes’ own greatest frustration are supermarkets which waste their ready-made data potential.

‘The grocery industry is run by merchandisers who put their hands in manufacturers’ pockets, instead of making money the way they should.’ By crafting relationships with their profitable customers, of course.

It’s all pretty basic, Hughes says.

Nothing more than using computers to ‘bring back the corner grocer 50 years later – old Mr. Aston remembering to ask how last week’s roast was, and reminding you the asparagus is fresh today.

Only, today, it’s a computer that does the remembering and reminding.

You could call it Mr. Aston Meets CSIS.

Hughes shrugs: ‘I call it Back to the Future.’