The Types of Customers in The Market College Type Consumer Case Study

Fondren Publishing, Inc., based in Paris, France, is one of the leading worldwide publishers of academic journals in the area of science and technology. It has more than 2,000 titles in its stable of products and publishes them in both print and electronic formats. Its primary customers are trade customers, who collect academic journal content from several different publisher sources and then package the content and resell it to retail customers. To a lesser extent, Fondren also sells directly to retail customers such as universities, libraries, societies/associations (e.g., Society of Environmental Engineers), and individuals (e.g., professors, scientists).

Fondren’s sales force is known for being dynamic and knowledgeable, and some members of its sales team have been with the company for as many as 17 years. It traditionally has had a geographically structured sales force, divided into 14 regions: 6 in the United States, 4 in Europe, 4 in Asia-Pacific. Fondren’s largest trade customer, by far, is New York-based AcademCo., which has a 35 percent share in its market and is responsible for 20 percent of Fondren’s sales revenues. Therefore, the regional sales team covering the northeastern United States is extra large to accommodate this customer.

Just last week, a deal was reached for Fondren to merge with another journal publisher, Bronson & Sons, which is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Bronson specializes in health science titles, which will add more than 750 new titles to those of Fondren. Bronson has fewer trade customers than Fondren and focuses on its direct customers such as societies, universities, and individuals. Bronson’s market has previously been limited to Europe, broadly speaking, with no defined territorial sales regions within Europe.

Although the arrangement is a “merger,” Fondren has a controlling interest and will blend Bronson’s products with its existing products under the Fondren name. Fondren’s executives are meeting to decide on how the new merged company will be structured, including how the sales force will be structured.

The executives also want to use this merger and restructuring opportunity to enhance the company’s customer service activities. Currently, the customer service department handles the fulfillment and maintenance of new and existing subscriptions (renewals, change of address, and so forth) through telephone operators. Fondren’s IT department has plans to implement a new customer service and fulfillment system, which will be able to record and track particular customer information, as well as offer the customer service functions through an online Web interface.

To this point, the sales representatives would make the initial sale, and then turn the customer over to the customer service function for maintenance. Alienor Cointreau, director of customer service and fulfillment, has a vision in which customer service representatives would be able to contribute to sales by up-selling or cross-selling Fondren products when the reps are in contact with customers.


1. How should Fondren structure its sales force after the merger with Bronson? Why? What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of the structure you chose?

2. How should Fondren treat its key account(s)? Why?

3. What selling approach could Fondren take to coordinate its selling endeavors with its customer service and fulfillment operations?


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