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Direct Marketing Guru Founds New Venture Targeting E-Commerce

Lester Wunderman, direct marketing pioneer and founder of Wunderman Cato Johnson, on Tuesday plunged into the online world by launching I-behavior, a firm that provides consumer data to e-commerce companies.

I-Behavior is putting together a database of opt-in consumer names that combines online and offline purchasing information, so marketers can better target their messages. Charter members who contribute information to the database will be rewarded with stock in the new company.

Although the new venture -- because it combines online and offline data -- sounds a little like the plans that got online advertising giant DoubleClick (DCLK) in hot water, I-Behavior says its is a opt-in system. The company also says it won't release individual consumer information or track people's Web surfing patterns by using cookies. The company will even let consumers look at and edit their own profiles.

"To thrive in the future, on-line marketers need to replicate and eventually surpass the best practices of conventional direct marketers when it comes to understanding, serving, and interacting with their customers," said Lester Wunderman, chairman of I-Behavior.

Heading up the new venture as chief executive officer will be Wunderman's daughter-in-law, Lynn Wunderman, who has quite a direct marketing pedigree of her own. She was a founding partner of marketing consultancy Wunderman, Sadh & Associates, and she was chief operating officer of Marketing Information Technologies, after working at Ogilvy & Mather Direct.

I-Behavior's services will include database consulting an consulting and management and analytical services. It will also operate a data lab, which will provide strategic consulting, behavioral research and product development services.

The company has raised initial funding of $3.2 million from a group of private investors.