Creating value: service strategy from aristocrats to aviation

Laurie Young

Unfortunately history does not seem to record whether, one morning in 1771, the one thousand German aristocrats who received an unsolicited sample with a circular letter from British potter Josiah Wedgwood were astonished. It would be fascinating to know whether the language seemed strange to them, how it was packaged and whether Josiah's designs appealed to the Germanic taste of their families. We do know, however, that the huge risk (a princely £20 per package) elicited a fast response, which quickly paid back, and that within two years, all but three of those that had purchased had paid in full.

A factor in this success was Josiah's long-running after-care package. It included a 'satisfaction or money back' guarantee, free shipping and the willingness to replace any broken item without question. Among the first recorded examples of service support to product purchase, it was one of the distinctive components of his approach and contributed to the success of this 300-year-old premium brand.