In 1993 we published our first book, The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time (New York: Currency/Doubleday). We had no way of knowing how or when ubiquitous, cost-efficient interactivity would arrive, but the march of technology was inevitable, and we felt strongly that genuinely interactive media channels would become widely available sooner or later, in one form or another. And when interactivity did arrive, we suggested, the nature of marketing would have to change forever. At the time, marketing consisted primarily of crafting outbound messages creative or noticeable enough to break through the clutter of other one-way messages. These messages promoted standardized, mass-produced products with unique selling propositions that appealed to the most commonly held interests among the widest possible markets of consumers.

In sharp contrast to this model of marketing, we maintained that interactive technologies would compel businesses to try to build relationships with individual customers, one customer at a time. To our minds, this new type of marketing—which we dubbed “one-to-one marketing” or “1to1 marketing”—represented literally a different dimension of competition. We predicted that in the one-to-one future, the battle for market share would be supplemented by a battle for “share of customer”; product management organizations would have to be altered to accommodate managing individual customer relationships as well; and the decreasing ...

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