October 12, 2015

But What About The 25% Of Catalogers Who Have Young Customer Bases?

Young (in catalog terms) meaning age 35-54, of course.

There are things that these businesses do that are fundamentally different than what most catalogers do. Some of this is "chicken 'n egg" logic, and cannot be unraveled, of course.

*** Their dependence upon the co-ops has always been less than the typical cataloger, thereby seeding their business with younger names who like merchandise tailored to younger customers.

*** They sell more "fashion oriented" items.

*** Their merchandise aligns with stuff needed in a new home, or aligns with stuff needed by families with children. In this way, they draw the younger portion of the co-op algorithm (where there is less competition, interestingly), and they are far more appealing to the typical individual prowling out there for the best deal on Google.

*** They offer free shipping more often than discounts/promotions.

*** Their online marketing departments are fully staffed, and are excellent.

*** They work at a pace/urgency that most catalogers cannot match.

*** Their attribution programs equalize between online marketing and catalog marketing. Traditional catalog marketers with older customer bases assign online orders back to the catalog without questioning the results.

*** They test, often.

*** They have smaller page counts.

*** They seldom mail remails, and in the process, they do not bore their customers as much.

*** They shift their customers from online to the mobile web, and then into apps. The most loyal customers end up in apps, not in catalogs. The opposite is true for traditional catalogers.

*** In "digital" and "social", they are far more likely to tell a story, without worrying about return on investment. Traditional catalogers tell stories in print, then align digital with print, causing digital to always lag far behind the customer, and then demand that everything is measured and attributed back to the catalog.

*** Email marketing supports merchandise, is merchandised dynamically and/or customers are targeted via one of the five best creative/merchandise treatment combinations several times per week. Traditional catalogers use email to support the catalog, and have only one version of an email campaign that is sent to everybody.

*** The online marketing team has minimal catalog experience, and that is not viewed as a negative.

*** Decisions are made in a nimble manner (as vendors like to say, these folks are "agile"). They will change things online without catalog alignment, capitalizing on sales opportunities. Traditional catalogers wait to change until the catalog can "catch up", thereby fully integrating channels.

*** Planning is centralized around merchandise and events. Traditional catalogers centralize planning around catalogs.

*** They often have a retail channel, where younger customers by default are likely to shop. This drives the merchandise assortment much younger, spilling over into e-commerce and cataloging.

Obviously, these are generalizations of things that I observe. I've witnessed catalogers with 40 year old customers and the oldest-school techniques you'll ever see. I've also seen catalogers with 70 year old customers who execute programs that mobile-savvy brands would envy. 

But you get the picture. I share this with you, in hopes that you'll think about what it all means.