June 12, 2013


Have you heard this song?

I'll bet 9 in 10 of you have not heard it.

This song was released in May of 2012, by one of the best selling artists of all time.

A key tenant of a Merchandise Forensics project is "decay".  Basically, items don't remain best sellers forever.  Each item has a time in the sun, then performance begins to decay.

Take a look at US/Canada-based Album sales for Alanis Morissette (click here for more details):

  • Alanis, 1991, 100,000 copies (Canada Only).
  • Now Is The Time, 1992, 50,000 copies (Canada Only).
  • Jagged Little Pill, 1995, 14,820,000 copies (US).
  • Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, 1998, 2,600,000 copies (US).
  • Under Rug Swept, 2002, 1,000,000 copies (US).
  • So-Called Chaos, 2004, 475,000 copies (US).
  • Flavors of Entanglement, 2008, 235,000 copies (US).
  • Havoc and Bright Lights, 2012, 70,000 copies (US).
Three things are happening here.
  1. Decay.  Each successive album sells fewer copies than the prior album.  This happens to your merchandise assortment, as well.  You must understand this dynamic, in order to understand why your marketing efforts succeed/fail.
  2. Channel.  As sales shifted from CDs to MP3s, measuring success via albums sold becomes futile.
  3. Awareness.  As the number of channels become nearly infinite, it becomes infinitely difficult to reach the audience necessary to create the awareness required to drive sales.
We tend to focus our efforts on (2).  We are all about the shift from old-school catalogs to e-commerce, and now, the shift from old-school e-commerce to mobile.

We spend too little time on (3).

And almost none of us focus on decay (1).

When decay is left unchecked, merchandise productivity falls.  When merchandise productivity falls, email performance and search performance and mobile performance and catalog performance all suffer.  When marketing performance suffers, marketers get fired.

You don't want to get fired.

So work hard to understand merchandise decay.  It's a critical element to understanding merchandise productivity - and merchandise productivity dictates marketing success.