Database Marketers Target Automotive Market

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Newgen Results Corp., San Diego, is gearing up to launch a strategic customer relationship management initiative for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc., Cypress, CA, starting in this year's fourth quarter. While the companies are still working out the details, Newgen said the CRM initiative would probably involve its headquarters and 500 Mitsubishi dealers throughout the United States.

But Newgen is not the only database marketing concern to tap into the automotive industry's Millennium efforts. Tessera Enterprise Systems Inc., Wakefield, MA, a relationship management solutions provider and The Polk Co., Southfield, MI, an automotive industry data provider, announced a partnership this month to provide relationship management solutions to the automotive industry.

The Tessera/Polk partnership will combine Polk's automotive data assets -- such as title, registration and demographic data -- and Tessera's technical data warehousing expertise to help companies develop CRM programs for automotive manufacturers.

According to both companies, the partnership allows manufacturers to combine company-owned data, dealer data and Polk data into one integrated database marketing system. Companies will learn more about their customers, and they will reduce the amount of time it takes to retrieve data, refresh it and distribute it across enterprises. The companies also are working to redefine how business intelligence data is purchased, delivered and used within the automotive industry.

"We will proactively integrate the automotive manufacturers data with value-added data from Polk," said Tom Tague, chief operations officer, Tessera. "Then, the manufacturers can produce targeted lists of customers for training purposes, and, because the data is all brought together, you can mine that data for interesting patterns and opportunities."

The companies decided to pool their resources because they saw a growing need in the automotive industry for CRM solutions.

"There is a strong need for database marketing systems in the automotive industry now as competition for the percentage-of-garage increases and customers become a little more finicky about expecting automotive companies to know who they are," said David Zaccagnini, vice president of information technology at Polk. "This industry has gown up as a mass marketer and it is seeing the need and adjusting to the need to know their customers better."

Zaccagnini said the automotive industry has huge amounts of data, "but the key is being able to get the data to the manufacturer's fingertips so they can learn more about their customers. Right now it is very difficult to get to this data because there is so much of it, and it is in so many different places," he said.

The partnership represents the second phase of a relationship between Tessera and Polk that began eight months ago, when Tessera began redesigning Polk's internal data delivery process and information platform -- moving it from a legacy system to an open systems architecture. Now, the partnership is prepared to design, build and deliver solutions for automotive clients.

"The partnership brings to the table the two entities you need to be successful in database marketing: A company very strong in data resources and analeptics and a company specializing in the design and development of database marketing systems," Zaccagnini said.

In general, the solution will help automotive companies as they shift their database marketing strategies from a product focus to a customer one.

"The automotive industry is not at the cutting edge of using customer information," said Tessera's Tague. "Financial services has taken the lead on being customer-focused, and what we are finding is that other industries lag behind that. But, industries such as the automotive industry, are starting to get the message now very clearly that people want the appropriate product, not just product in general, pushed at them."

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