At least two new home video projects are taking on the venerable Welcome Wagon and scores of co-op mailing programs that distribute coupons.
Atlanta-based Cox Video Marketing's Newcomer Video, a visual guided tour of a mover's new town, expands next month to San Francisco after earlier start-ups in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Tampa.
At the same time, two companies are teaming up with real-estate brokers to offer ad-supported advice on buying and selling homes, using a home video and a magazine.
Several credit-card issuers, including leader Citibank, are targeting new movers with telemarketing and direct-mail campaigns, under the theory that new movers spend freely on home improvements and need higher credit lines.
And even package-goods companies are targeting movers with promotional efforts. S.C. Johnson & Son sends coupons to 25 million movers each year for its Toilet Duck toilet-bowl cleaner.
"It gets people when they're in a cleaning frame of mind," explains Jeff Johansen, senior brand manager at S.C. Johnson.
Movers represent a valuable target audience, especially for retailers, financial service companies and others seeking to establish loyalty among customers unfamiliar with an area. An estimated 17% of Americans move each year.
Industry experts say movers are attractive because they're far more likely to buy insurance policies, telephones, and other products and services as they get settled.
"A new mover will spend as much in the first 12 months in their home as an existing resident will spend on decorating, renovation and accessories in the next five years," says Carl Buccellato, president-CEO of Homeowners Marketing Services, a Hollywood, Fla., company that distributes a video through a network of real-estate brokers.
The market has seen its share of direct-marketing entries, mostly relying on unglamorous mail delivery of coupons, magazines and other offers. Besides programs like Welcome Wagon and the similar Getting to Know You service, a handful of magazines targeted at new movers have come along.
Hearst Magazines now publishes House Beautiful's Your Move, an annual magazine mailed free since 1992 to recent movers who subscribe to any of Hearst's four shelter magazines or Good Housekeeping, and is also sold on newsstands.
The most recent issue, mailed last spring, includes 45 or 46 ad pages and has a guaranteed circulation of 500,000. Hearst is expanding it to include newsstand distribution and potential movers through direct-response ads in its own magazines.
R.R. Donnelley's Metromail and other direct marketers also offer compiled lists of new movers that marketers can target with mail offers.
But the drawbacks of these and other programs are a matter of timing. Most often, these marketing efforts reach movers four weeks or more after they've moved, and presumably already established new loyalties to local and national businesses.
The conventional wisdom has it that "it's impossible to reach movers in a timely way," says Bill Fried, co-founder of ECV, an Englewood Cliffs, N.J., company that distributes magazines to home buyers before they move.
Some are trying. Newcomer Video is a slickly packaged 30-minute program, hosted by Mariette Hartley, mailed to above-average income families that have moved to a new city.
In typical fashion, the list is compiled from the U.S. Postal Service national change-of-address file; real estate title transfers; national credit bureaus; and change-of-address lists from consumer titles.
The video contains customized information on schools, entertainment and other attractions of the new city.
It contains several response-oriented spots from advertisers, and each includes coupons that track redemption rates.
"They like the video marketing concept of having coupons supported by a TV commercial that really shows consumers about their business," says Lee Durham, exec VP-sales and marketing.
Advertisers pay a seemingly hefty $1.75 for each household that gets a tape. But Mr. Durham claims the targeted nature of the program makes that cost worthwhile, and says he's trying to get the videos into movers' hands earlier.
Homeowners Marketing Services claims its video, starring Tony Randall, reaches movers when they're more likely to develop affiliations with marketers-before they move.
The company distributes separate packages to both sellers and buyers in 49 states who have listed their homes for sale with a network of 20,000 mostly independent real estate brokerages.
The mailing to buyers offers a free change-of-address service, an affinity Visa card and discounts from movers. And both sellers and buyers receive a one-year membership in Homeowners Association of America, which provides offers from AT&T and insurance companies.
ECV publishes the three-year-old Buying, Selling & Owning Your Home, a twice-yearly magazine sponsored by real estate-related companies, whose logos appear on the magazine's cover in the top 100 markets.
The 750,000-circulation title, sold to brokers for $2.25 a copy and distributed free to sellers and buyers, runs more than 30 pages of ads from Sears, Roebuck & Co., Amana, Kohler and other home-improvement businesses, at $35,000 a page.
Some advertisers also buy a companion couponing program, also sent to home buyers once they've gone to contract on a new home but before the closing.
"We offer the element of timing," says Oliver Brown, a co-founder and managing director of ECV. "We're able to reach people much quicker," typically four weeks before their move.
ECV now plans to sell lists of fresh homebuyers, generated from affiliations with local real-estate brokers, to other marketers. Homeowners Marketing says it won't sell its lists.