It is cheaper and easier to keep existing customers than to try and woo new ones. Relationship marketing is changing the way companies and individuals tie their knot of loyalty.
Ten days before it launched its new Range Rover at the Paris Motor Show, Rover let 10,000 of its most privileged customers into its secret. Each one of them received an invitation to a champagne breakfast or a candle lit dinner to see the new car - privately - before the rest of the world got to hear about it. This was no hard sell. Those who came along were not expected to make any commitments. Instead they were shown a BBC-style documentary which, at most, included incidental shots of the new car in action. Some saw Viscount David Linley and explorer Robin Hanbury Tenison exploring the rainy slopes of Mount Fuji, others saw General Sir Peter de la Billiere in Botswana working on irrigations projects and trying to save the elephant, and yet others Richard Branson in the Cotswolds, or Robin Knox-Johnston in Patagonia. Aside from a TV commercial - a three-minute version of the documentaries that was shown only once - that was the launch.