April 10, 2016

Victoria's Secret - End of Their Catalog?


You probably won't get an email from your printer or your paper rep telling you about this.

You probably won't get an email from your omnichannel marketing consultant telling you about this.

I know, I know, your business is unique, your business is different. You don't cater to a person who likes Victoria's Secret models, you cater to a 63 year old Master Gardener in Upstate New York. Because you are different, your vendor support system will tell you to ignore the facts when a large brand is about to pull $100,000,000 in catalog ad expense out of the ecosystem. They'll tell you to pay attention to Wayfair mailing a paltry quantity of catalogs instead, as if Wayfair is any more aligned with the future than Victoria's Secret (and honestly, none of us can predict the future).

We need to stop picking and choosing the facts that the vendor community decides to present to us.

Now, you might want to run to a dumpster and vomit vigorously when you read that Victoria's Secret will make up the sales generated by a catalog with increased loyalty and digital engagement. It sounds like a different set of industry pundits got to somebody at Victoria's Secret. Having been a Vice President at a multi-billion dollar brand, I can speak from experience - the pundits find ways to get in the building.

There are two things that determine business success.
  1. Increased Merchandise Productivity.
  2. Customer Acquisition Gains.
When you hear about marketing brilliance, you are typically hearing about customer acquisition gains. And when you've acquired all of the customers your brand is capable of acquiring, well, you need to move into new product areas, product areas that attract a new customer audience.

I'm saying this because it simply does not matter whether Victoria's Secret mails a catalog or does not mail a catalog. It's 2016, not 1991. The customer is going to find Victoria's Secret if the customer wants to purchase from Victoria's Secret. Do not listen to any of the business entertainment babble about this being a stupid omnichannel decision or this being a great digital decision. All of it is simply business entertainment. Nobody knows whether this is a good/bad decision. 

Nobody.

They key, of course, is to have great merchandise. Once the merchandising team gives us great merchandise, the marketer figures out how to leverage the merchandise to acquire as many customers as possible. This is not done via channels and marketing spend. This is done via creative customer acquisition programs.

I know. You disagree with me. 

That's ok.