direct mail, Marketing

The Roots of Customer Loyalty

Version 5

A 100-year-old brand backed by its owner.

We all have brand imprints that are part of our core. Coke, Kellogg, General Electric, Disney — these are trusted, bedrock brands we’ve known since birth.  The most valuable brands today would be Apple, Google, Facebook–but not necessarily the most trusted, yet.

Then, there are those brands which court obscurity.  Names like Zenith, Woolworths, IGA, Rexall…all in their time were once powerhouses.


A conventional envelope kit with 50 inserts, weighing in at only 3.2 ounces… a postal bargain.

So how is it that a company called Haband has 5,000,000 customers?

I wondered this puzzle when I received their mailing last week.  Haband is a mailorder merchandiser founded in 1915 by two gentlemen: M. Habernickel and John Anderson.  They sold ties to bankers in Manhattan.

Talk about product selection! Who wears ties today?


Clothing and footwear replace the original Haband product line: neck ties for bankers.

From their early beginnings the Haband brand grew to offer general merchandise, mostly, but not limited to, clothing.

Their style choices are not for everyone, and you would be right to suggest that your parents and grand parents would be more likely targets.  Put another way, getting a Haband mailing is like getting an AARP mailing, only much later.

The secret to Haband’s success is the core… the essence of direct mail.  A champion writes a letter to a customer, providing personal assurance about the desirability of a product.

Version 4

The letter is central to the offer, and in this case, Duke’s guarantee of satisfaction.

Duke Habernickel is, I am guessing, the son or grandson of the fabled company’s co-founder.

The products in question range from duck boots to space heaters, from fleece pants to “ForeverSharp” razors.  The broad selection is what I might have found in my late parents’ closets when we moved them into more modest and permanent surroundings.


Free gifts: knife, watch and pen. Suitable for any Haband customer!

But when it comes to direct marketing, what sells, and what doesn’t sell is more than personal taste.  I have learned that my opinion does not count.

This is a platinum rule, maybe even titanium.  Put another way, just because I wouldn’t buy it doesn’t mean that no one else will buy it.

Au contraire!

Haband is successful because it knows its customer very well, and the customer has a reciprocal expectation and trust in Haband.  Thus, Duke Habernickel signs his name to a letter introducing no less than 46 items for purchase, plus another 3 free gift items to sweeten the deal.

The Haband mailing piece is itself unusual in today’s environment.   With so many products you may have expected a catalog.

Instead, it is a low-color, 6 x 10 envelope stuffed with 47 individual sell sheets, plus letter and reply envelope.


The kit delivers 47 product sell sheets, from shoes to sharpeners.

The two-sided, 4-color sell sheets each contain the entire deal, embroidered with enthusiastic sell copy, and anchored with individual order form.  They are printed on the lightest coated paper stock available.

While you may question the flimsy medium, Haband gets the 47-piece job done in just under 3.3 ounces, thereby capturing the lowest possible postage rate.  By the square inch, each product has a digest-sized page of display.  Pretty smart.

Duke’s letter is verbose, jumbled, effervescent, and personable.  It is traditional, and lacks the slickness of general agency creative.  The copy is laced with 28 “you’s and your’s” in addition to 8 personal references by name.  More significant however are 7 “me’s, I’s and my’s” illustrating Duke Habernickel’s personal investment in the relationship.

Version 2

It would be a challenge for many marketers to claim being “your friend”, but that’s what counts for Haband customers.

For some, the effect may be unctuous, but if you are a Haband customer, you are Duke’s customer, and comfortable with it.  The personal touch is expected and welcomed.

The roots of customer loyalty are founded in matching customer expectations, tone and manner.  Whoever, and wherever those 5,000,000 buyers may be, they will not be discounted as strangers at Haband.


Thanks for reading! I believe this is the first Haband piece I have ever received.  I must ask serious questions about what demographic group I have now joined.





6 thoughts on “The Roots of Customer Loyalty

  1. Allan Gross says:

    Hi Phil, Especially enjoyed your Haband analysis, right on point of course. Brought back some unique memories for me. Many years ago when I was in the army in Ft Bliss Texas in one of the first missile battalions Duke was our company second lieutenant. I worked in the Troop Information & Education section and had much interaction with him. Maybe 20-25 years ago Billy and I made a sales call on them in their NJ headquarters. I brought my battalion id pin with me and used it to personally connect with him while chatting about our Army days. Needless to say we got the test, did pretty well and always stopped in to say hello on our subsequent calls. Best Regards, Allan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Allan! What a connection! You still come to mind when I remember your story about ironing the wrinkled Confederate currency to fit the inserters. Life in the DM pool is infinitely deep in challenges and pleasant surprises. Always great o hear from you. I hope you are doing well. Thanks for writing!


  2. Grady Hauser says:

    Phil—- Joining the Haband mailing list….. I got to thinking, are you still at RRD?


    *Sales Office:* 5 Lydia Ct Elgin, IL 60124 phone: 847.441.2955 cell: 847.951.4231


    • Hi Grady! No, I am not with RRD, since June 2013. But happily, I still receive the super packages that this great company produces. This “TMC” super component was shipped to a third party who inserted the 47 product sheets. By the way, RRD will consummate hits trisection on October 1. Shareholders will get piece of three new companies. I hope to see a financial improvement. Mind you, the direct mail business which is very solid stays with the new RR Donnelley. All the best, and thanks for writing!


  3. Seems like Haband takes a more targeted Value Pak features but with a significant exception all the offers are branded Haband. I also detect some use of pushing “outside” the envelope with a QR code inclusion, one more disturbing element to reach item 48 sell sheet continues the sale …online. They have been a great Student of DM and user of direct marketing for 101 years, twice as long as my tenure. Good Experience counts.

    Liked by 1 person

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