STRATEGIC ALLIANCES

Asia for Kids Connects with Verizon Cincinnati-based children’s educational products cataloger Asia for Kids and Dallas-based telephone company Verizon (formerly GTE) may seem unlikely bedfellows, but the two companies formed a marketing partnership last year.

In a program that launched in June, U.S.-based Verizon customers who frequently call Asia – primarily Asian-Americans – receive statement stuffers offering a free product from Asia for Kids if they spend a specified amount on long-distance calls to Asia. Customers who qualify for the free gift then receive a copy of the Asia for Kids catalog in the package.

“We are Verizon’s one-stop shop for the program,” says Selina Yoon, founder of the six-year-old Asia for Kids. “We translate the copy and print the flier. And given what we know about the buying habits of Asian-Americans, we also put in a business reply card.” Asian-Americans generally prefer written correspondence to placing telephone orders, Yoon says, especially consumers who do not speak English well.

Asia for Kids also handles fulfillment of the gifts. Once a month Verizon’s letter shop batch-sends the orders via file transfer protocol (FTP) to Asia for Kids. And through weekly communication with Verizon, the cataloger can prepack boxes without placing a strain on its fulfillment capabilities, Yoon says.

A WIN-WIN DEAL Yoon says Verizon contacted her in November 1999 after seeing one of her catalogs. Asia for Kids sells books, videos, and toys targeting families of Asian descent. According to the U.S. Census, more than 10 million Asian-Americans live in the U.S. Yoon says that Verizon wanted to find a strategy to retain its customers who frequently call Asia. (Calls to Verizon were not returned by press time.)

Yoon would not disclose how much revenue the program provides the cataloger nor other financial details. The two companies do not share mailing list information, says Yoon, who adds that Asia for Kids and Verizon plan to continue the program throughout the rest of the year.

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