Lured by tech-enabled opportunities to use customer data to build customized and profitable relationships, companies have invested heavily in customer relationship management (CRM) systems that quantify the value of customers. But critics note that CRM has devolved into customer profitability management: an efficiency-driven, company-centric practice that moves people to higher tiers of profitability by managing costs-to-serve but provides little insight into why and in what ways people relate to brands. To optimize CRM capabilities for branding, managers must develop a deeper appreciation of relationship psychology and fundamentals. First, relationships are not all created equal and different relationships require different ways of relating. Despite the reality of “brand relationship portfolios”, managers remain fixated on advancing high-commitment, high-passion “marriages” and ignore other strategically critical relationships formed with the brand. Second, relationships are dynamic phenomena that evolve over time and with each interaction. CRM strategies must consider migration across the relationship portfolio: transitioning weaker to stronger relationships, diffusing or shifting negative relationships to more positive or neutral templates, and growing those relationship templates with strategic significance for the brand.
In this assignment, students will analyze relationship data for a category and set of brands, and develop a relationship strategy for a brand of their choosing. Strategies should include: (1) A summary and diagnosis of the brand’s current relationship portfolio, providing insights into its composition, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities; (2) Strategic recommendations for improving the portfolio over time, including a clear statement of prioritized strategic goals, persuasive rationale for strategic recommendations, and clear directional statement regarding where the relationship portfolio is headed; and (3) Two to three tactics for achieving the top two priority strategic goals.
Relationship strategies and the analyses that inform them should be prepared in PowerPoint and uploaded before class to the Course Resources folder, “Team Assignment: Brand Relationship Strategies”. Final reports should adhere to a 20-slide limit (using 16-font or higher). Teams may include associated notes pages to amplify the points in and logic behind their slides. Supplemental analytic tables/appendices are also accepted provided these are interpreted in and have inferences for the recommendations and analyses in the report.
Students may find the readings below useful in preparing their assignments:
Alvarez, Claudio and Susan Fournier (2012), “Brand Flings: When Great Brand Relationships are Not Built to Last,” in Consumer-Brand Relationships: Theory and Practice, S.
Fournier, M. Breazeale, and M. Fetscherin (eds.), London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 74-96
Avery, Jill, Susan Fournier and John Wittenbraker (2014), “Unlock the Mysteries of your Customer Relationships,” Harvard Business Review, Spotlight on the Marketing Organization, July/August, 72-81.
Fournier, Susan (2009), “Lessons Learned about Consumers’ Relationships with their Brands,” in Handbook of Brand Relationships, Priester, MacInnis, and Park (eds.), N.Y: M.E. Sharp, 5-23
Fournier, Susan and Jill Avery (2011), “Putting the Relationship Back in CRM,” Sloan Management Review, 52 (3), 63-72
Fournier, Susan and Jill Avery (2011), “Managing Brands by Managing Brand Relationships,” in Perspectives on Brand Management, M. Uncles (ed.), Prahan, Victoria: Tilde University Press, 225-248.
Miller, Felicia, Susan Fournier and Chris Allen (2012), “Exploring Relationship Analogues in the Brand Space,” in Consumer-Brand Relationships: Theory and Practice,
Fournier, Breazeale, and Fetscherin (eds.), London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 30-56