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Borders is not a store but an experience, according to Patty Kerr.

The former director of marketing was in charge of putting together the first-ever market positioning for the book, music and cafe chain beginning in 1992. That's when the chain moved from just selling books to creating a stimulating experience with a coffee bar and music-listening stations.

The positioning stemmed from anthropological and market research that studied the loyal customers of Borders as if they were a tribe. Through the research, Ms. Kerr and agency Perich & Partners, Ann Arbor, Mich., learned that loyal Borders customers are passionate about their interests and passionate about learning.

"The consumers were looking for an opportunity to explore and discover new things," says Ms. Kerr, 34.

That research sparked the current campaign tagged "Find out. Borders," which contained a series of unanswered questions including "Are you curious?" and "How do you gift wrap the world?"

"Our goal was to have the advertising be stimulating just like the store is," says Ms. Kerr, now VP-strategic planning at Eidos Advertising, Farmington Hills, Mich. "We have a very intelligent, sophisticated customer base and they don't want to be given all the answers or have us tell them what to think."

Understanding their consumer has helped Borders sales soar, on a media budget of only about $3 million. Sales for the bookstores jumped 65.7% to $638.5 million, and comparable store sales rose 9.6% for the fiscal year ended January 28, 1996.

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