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Welcome Wagon, the in-home greeting service, is still thinking locally, but now it's acting nationally.

The service, acquired in February by CUC International, Stamford, Conn., is seeking its first national and regional sponsorships. Targeted categories include telecommunications, credit cards, financial services, supermarkets, retailers and package-goods companies including marketers of film, batteries, light bulbs and more.

"It used to be that the mom-and-pop businesses had this and the big boys couldn't play. Now they can," said Jesse Fink, senior VP-new business development for CUC. "Big companies are trying to find ways to communicate to consumers face to face. This is the combination of the personalized home visit, the high touch with the high tech, the direct marketing expertise of CUC International."

CUC is a leading provider of membership-based discount services with about 34 million members worldwide. Services include home shopping, travel, insurance, dining and discount coupon programs.

For less than $1 million, five charter national sponsors will get category exclusivity with Welcome Wagon. Fees for five charter regional sponsors are being determined. The campaign to find sponsors began last week; thus far, none have been signed.

Welcome Wagon has more than 2,000 field representatives who present pertinent community information and targeted, tailored messages from advertisers to new movers, engaged couples and expectant parents. There are about 20,000 local sponsors, who pay about $2 to $3 per household visit.

Welcome Wagon will visit about 750,000 homes this year and more than 1 million home visits are expected in 1996. Its 2,000 representatives will grow to 3,000 by next year, Mr. Fink said.

After a home visit, there is a direct mail follow-up program. The direct mail piece is personalized with the name of the Welcome Wagon representative and additional marketing offers from sponsors are included. True North, New York, handles.

For the national and regional sponsorship fee, marketers will get an exclusive presence in the Welcome Wagon gift basket, access to the direct mail follow up and the names and addresses of the consumers visited.

The potential for regional and national marketers is significant. A regional supermarket chain may want to take a store message and personalize it for local feeling. "A supermarket doesn't have the manpower to go into homes and deliver messages personally to consumers. But we do," Mr. Fink said.

Welcome Wagon had 1994 revenues of $15 million. CUC plans to double business in the next two years, Mr. Fink said.

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