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QVC has turned to a marketing veteran to help it reach the millions of shoppers who don't tune in to the cable channel.

Robert J. Perkins, 42, last week was named president of the new QDirect unit, designed to broaden distribution channels for merchandise from QVC and its spinoffs, Q2 and On Q.

At QDirect, he'll develop catalogs, direct mail ads and infomercials, all targeting the 90% of households that have never bought from QVC. He will report to Doug Briggs, president of QVC Electronic Retailing.

Mr. Perkins most recently was senior VP-marketing at Pizza Hut Worldwide and before that was president of Chiat/Day, New York, and head of Chiat's Perkins/Butler direct marketing unit.

He took the QVC post, based in West Chester, Pa., in an eleventh-hour switch after accepting an offer to run Ogilvy & Mather Direct, New York.

Among likely QDirect marketing tactics are incentives to stimulate first-time orders and cross-selling of compatible products. QVC already is testing infomercials on broadcast stations for a handful of its more successful products.

Because only four million households have bought from QVC in the past year, there's plenty of room for growth, QVC executives said.

"It's a natural extension of the business," Mr. Perkins said last week. "They've been classic electronic retailers; we're going to add a classic direct marketing angle on that. We'll be exploiting brands that will be built on QVC and leveraging them into other areas. As [QVC Chairman] Barry Diller likes to say, we're putting more trucks on the information highway."

QDirect also will form joint ventures with entrepreneurs and inventors, handling production and marketing chores in exchange for a percentage of sales.

As part of its expansion efforts, QVC plans to offer an interactive home shopping service by early 1995, said Steve Tomlin, VP-general manager of interactive technology.

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