Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Audubon Hill: A Relationship Marketing Case Study

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Audubon Hill: A Relationship Marketing Case Study

Article excerpt


The following case demonstrates how local businesses can flourish even in tough economic times. The case highlights two dominant marketing topics, relationship marketing and customer gratitude, and reveals their favorable effects for a small local business. The case is particularly applicable in an introductory marketing course, although it is also suited for undergraduates enrolled in management, fashion merchandising or retailing courses. It is recommended that students will assess the company's marketing strategy as well as target market, and examine the company's practice of relationship marketing and generation of customer gratitude. Students should expect to spend two hours outside of class reviewing and responding to the case questions in groups. An in class discussion can follow, in which the class hears all of the different group responses.


Audubon Hill Antiques and Gifts is a gift shop located in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. Saint Francisville was founded in 1809 and has traditionally been a popular tourist attraction due to its historic plantations, churches, cemeteries, gardens and renowned golf course. Audubon Hill is located in the downtown market district and the rustic design of the store fits in well with the town 's history. The store has been in business for six years and carries a wide assortment of high-end merchandise including gifts, antiques, home décor, jewelry, bath and body products, children and baby items, women's and men's clothing, accessories, seasonal merchandise, souvenirs, and traditional Louisiana specialty foods. Gifts can be found for weddings, baby showers, holidays, and birthdays for all ages. The owner, Kathleen, describes the store as being the place where you can find a gift for anyone and take a little piece of Louisiana home with you. Although Audubon Hill has survived the 2008-2012 global recession thus far, the owner worries about the company's future. Since 2008, tourism in Saint Francisville has been unpredictable and Audubon Hill's current year-to-date sales are down from last year. Kathleen's afraid that Audubon Hill may not experience enough sales to keep the business operating.

converted to a long-term relational norm (Palmatier, 2008). In essence, gratitude prompts a cycle of continuous reciprocation, which is at the heart of relationship marketing. Given that service providers (i.e. frontline employees, sales representatives, customer service agents, etc.) directly interact with customers, there are several instances in which a customer may feel gratitude as a result of perceiving the provider as improving his or her well-being. Thus, organizations need to recognize these situations to reap the benefits that accompany customer felt gratitude.


Kathleen recognized that changes in merchandise offerings were warranted. She therefore has stopped carrying merchandise that falls within the accessories and antique categories. Audubon Hill also reduced its assortment of food and clothing items and maintained best sellers. Kathleen also recognized that the backroom was not a large source of revenue. As a result she worked with a local realtor and advertised in the front of her store that selling space was available for rent within Audubon Hill. The backroom is now rented and carries bedding and furniture that matches the style of merchandise carried by Audubon Hill. In this way, she has been able to secure regular income from rent while also expanding her 'home' category, which as noted in the case, is very popular with her increased market of local customers. In addition, the section of the store that originally displayed children's merchandise is rented by another individual that sells women's clothing, targeted towards women within the age range of 25-40, further differentiating her store from her competitors noted in the case, such as the store selling clothing meant for women over 60. The combined rent for both spaces is $1960 per month. …

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