Dean Witter, Discover & Co. is supporting the animal kingdom in its first affinity credit card.
The new card, for the National Alliance for Species Survival, is the product of a year-old affinity and cobranding group within Novus Services, a unit of Dean Witter.
Analysts say affinity cards are consistent with Dean Witter's multicard strategy of targeting groups of consumers with new products, but that the New York-based company is disappointed it has not landed a big cobranded deal. Dean Witter has had discussions with about 100 organizations.
"I don't think this is the one that they have been waiting for," said Moshe Orenbuch, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
"We are delighted at where we are internally," said William L. Hodges, Novus' executive vice president of marketing. "A complex infrastructure has to be built," before cobranded affinity deals can be forged.
Dean Witter teamed up with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Bethesda, Md., which represents more than 170 zoos and aquariums. The card, which will be available next week, supports the survival of endangered species; one half of 1% of cardholder spending will go to the association's National Alliance for Species Survival, a new consumer group focused on public awareness programs. Dean Witter formed the consumer group as a marketing platform to attract new customers.
Cardholders may choose the zoo they want to support. The card has no annual fee and offers a 6.9% introductory interest rate until March 1997. Thereafter, the rate jumps to the prime rate plus 8.9%.
Robert B. McKinley, president of Ram Research Group, said Dean Witter is "jumping into the affinity market late in the game." Affinity cards have been around for at least a decade, and many of the nonprofit organizations have been snatched up.
The American Zoo and Aquarium Association represents 6,500 professionals, but Mr. Hodges says its new consumer group will attract "a much larger market."
More than 119 million people visited member zoos in 1995 - exceeding the combined annual attendance at professional football, basketball, and baseball games.