The Gap Aims to Bridge Chasm Among Its Brands

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By Melissa Campanelli

KISSIMMEE, FL - The Gap went looking for answers and got one during a unique session at last week's Winter 2004 National Center for Database Marketing Conference.

The San Francisco-based retailer let the audience vote on one of three database marketing solutions in its session, "Marketing Challenges Posed by The Gap Inc." The challenge was to create a program that helps the company communicate across its three brands - Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy - as well as generate new customers for each brand, increase customer transactions and improve the responsiveness of direct mail.

The winning solution came from KnowledgeBase Marketing, Richardson, TX.

Until this year, there was little acknowledgment at Gap that it was one of three brands and that customers were likely to shop at all three. In October, the company launched a private label credit card program allowing customers to shop and earn points across the brands. The program supports the customers' desire for greater versatility/value and highlights an opportunity for Gap to manage the customer more holistically.

Along with 3,000 retail stores, the company has outlet stores and an e-commerce site. It no longer prints a catalog. The company generates hundreds of millions customer contacts from these channels annually. Gap has $16 billion in sales.

Five teams submitted solutions to the challenge. Three were selected to present their solutions: Loyalty Builders, Ports-mouth, NH; Database Marketing Solutions, San Jose, CA; and KnowledgeBase. Each team offered a solution with four phases: knowledge/discovery, insight, testing and measurement and analysis.

KnowledgeBase's solution included appending its Amerilink consumer data file to each brand's data, cleansing the data and creating an analytic data file, which would help Gap perform customer segmentation, region analysis, store analysis and current customer cross-sell analysis.

Participants said that the challenge was just an exercise and that Gap was under no obligation to choose the program selected by audience members or from the other vendors that offered presentations.

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