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“Making Connections”: Insights into Relationship Marketing from the Australasian Stock and Station Agent Industry

  • Simon Ville

Abstract

Relationship marketing has received little attention from business historians who have favored the study of branding, associational advertising, market research, and the role of marketing agencies, particularly in relation to modern consumer manufacturing. Although the term relationship marketing is of recent origin, we analyze its practice under a different guise, “connections,” over several centuries: we draw on the extensive archival evidence of a rural business services industry in Australia and New Zealand. Relationship marketing's emphasis upon close and enduring individual customer relationships mitigated uncertainty of performance and behaviour, on both sides of the transaction, created by a long and geographically extended supply chain. The success of these relationships contributed to the primary industry-led economic development of both nations.

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