European journal of operational research vol:138 issue:1 pages:191-211
We focus on purchase incidence modelling for a European direct mail company. Response models based on statistical and neural network techniques are contrasted. The evidence framework of MacKay is used as an example implementation of Bayesian neural network learning, a method that is fairly robust with respect to problems typically encountered when implementing neural networks. The automatic relevance determination (ARD) method, an integrated feature of this framework, allows us to assess the relative importance of the inputs. The basic response models use operationalisations of the traditionally discussed Recency, Frequency and Monetary (RFM) predictor categories. In a second experiment, the RFM response framework is enriched by the inclusion of other (non-RFM) customer profiling predictors. We contribute to the literature by providing experimental evidence that: (1) Bayesian neural networks offer a viable alternative for purchase incidence modelling; (2) a combined use of all three RFM predictor categories is advocated by the ARD method; (3) the inclusion of non-RFM variables allows to significantly augment the predictive power of the constructed RFM classifiers; (4) this rise is mainly attributed to the inclusion of customer/mailing company interaction variables and a variable measuring whether a customer uses the credit facilities of the direct mailing company. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.