Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type



Computer Science

First Advisor

Margaret McCoey


Companies, and specifically brands, that are able to establish direct and meaningful relationships with their target consumers can maximize their opportunity to gain a competitive advantage against companies who are not able to establish these types of relationships. Some industries rely heavily on product branding, create products that are frequently utilized in the daily lives of consumers, and compete in categories with fixed growth. These companies are particularly susceptible to being impacted, both positively and negatively, by building relationships with their consumers. Categories with fixed growth, or narrow categories, present challenges for marketers in terms of redefining the concept of market share and competing for a piece of a much smaller pie. Doug Anderson, Nielsen Senior Vice President (SVP), research & development said “Growth will only come from increasing share against competition”. (“Nielsen: Marketing 'Gravy Train' to Derail by 2020”)

One such industry is Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG). CPG companies often spend a significant amount of time and resources collecting information about their consumers, but they have a need to develop meaningful ways to utilize the information to both provide value to these consumers, and provide the company with a positive business impact. Depending on the product’s life cycle stage, companies can potentially use consumer data to drive awareness, trial, conversion, loyalty, and/or advocacy of the brand or company.

Over time, consumers have also shown a proactive desire to establish relationships with the brands that they are interested in, or already use, by exhibiting behaviors that include visiting company and brand web sites, joining user groups and forums, completing registration forms with personal contact information, and opting in to receive future communications from the brand or company. Web 2.0 is also influencing how companies build relationships with consumers. Consumers also engage with brands by: interacting with brands on social network sites such as Facebook fan pages and providing ratings and /or reviews about products on sites like

The consumer incentives for providing his/her information and agreeing to receive communications from these companies and brands can include: information relevant to the consumer based on past historical information, and free or discounted products or services based on follow up actions taken by the consumers. These follow up actions could be: redeeming a coupon, submitting a rebate, and/or earning points by purchasing products that can be redeemed for something of value at a later time.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), also known as Consumer Relationship Management (CRM), in the CPG industry, is an area that can be investigated to bridge the gap between companies and consumers, who both have a stake in the relationship. “CRM is a business strategy aimed at understanding, anticipating and responding to the needs of a company's current and potential consumers in order to grow the relationship value”. (“CRM Defined and Understood”)

This project will investigate the ways in which CRM can achieve business benefits using people, processes, and technology in a changing landscape using communication vehicles or touch points, such as e-mail, direct mail and text messages, to consumers across the offline, online, and mobile spaces. This project will focus on how CRM has been, and will continue to be, impacted by Web 2.0. The deliverable of this project will be a customizable CRM playbook for CPG companies to utilize. This toolkit will contain best practices, processes, and software that can be applied in a combination of ways to meet various CPG companies’ and brands’ needs. The best practices section of the playbook will include how to define appropriate CRM-specific objectives, goals, strategies, tactics, and measures for CPG companies and brands. Strategies and tactics include extending relationships with consumers in the social media and mobile spaces. The playbook will define the governance of consumer data based on business rules defined by the company and the standard processes. E-mail deployment software is an example of how technology will be highlighted in the toolkit.

Success will be measured in various ways. As a strategic goal, companies should strive to maximize the utilization of data as a company asset and drive toward a higher degree of consumer segmentation and personalized communications. At a tactical level, companies can measure CRM program success though key performance indicators (KPIs) such as open rates, click through rates, and click-to-open rates of outbound e-mail communications. These are some of many vehicles used to build relationships with consumers.