December 02, 2012

Dear Catalog CEO: Your Target Audience

Dear Catalog CEOs:

In 1994, the target audience for catalogers was "everybody".  Good times, indeed!

Back in 2008, I ran across a curious finding, when analyzing the most responsive catalog names.  I was used to finding responsive names in New England and the Midwest.

I wasn't expecting what I learned next.

After mapping the most responsive catalog names for numerous clients, I noticed that urban and suburban areas had highly valuable customers, just not highly responsive to catalog marketing.

Between 2008 and 2010, demographic overlays illustrated another interesting trend.  The most responsive catalog buyers were getting older, significantly older in fact than the rest of the customer file.

You can validate each finding with your own customer database.  Run the queries, you're likely to observe similar findings.

So here, at the end of 2012, we know two things.
  1. Catalog response is greatest among rural, 55+ customers.
  2. Tremendous profit opportunities existing by mailing even more catalogs to the responsive audience, while greatly eliminating catalogs among customers not in the target audience.
Mail/holdout tests frequently validate these findings.  Urban customers under the age of 45 tend to purchase from your e-commerce website at high rates, even when catalogs are discontinued.

As you put together five year business plans, keep the image above nearby.  Develop a marketing plan for each cell in the grid!

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