June 15, 2016

The Catalog Brand Ecosystem

When you buy from Absolute Socks, your transactions don't go into the catalog co-op database ... but when you buy from In The Company Of Dogs, your transactions likely make it into the database.

So in this way, the catalog Brand Ecosystem at a co-op scale is largely functioning properly. You don't care that Absolute Socks transactions don't appear, because the customer buying from Absolute Socks isn't the customer buying from Blair. You don't want 100,000,000 households with detergent purchases ... you want 8,000,000 households modeled properly.

So when we hear from catalogers (constantly) that co-op performance is dying, we're left with a handful of conclusions.
  1. The 8,000,000 best catalog names are constant, but are performing worse over time.
  2. The 8,000,000 best catalog names are slowing churning into 6,000,000 catalog names, and the co-ops fill the remainder with unproductive buyers from online categories or grocery stores or wherever/whatever. Best have been reduced because the catalog ecosystem is dying.
Nobody in this industry wants to admit that (2) is a possibility. Careers are on the line. I get it. It isn't fun to talk about, so instead we fantasize about how some new allegiance model will deliver breakthrough results.

One CEO told me that a large co-op told him that only 45% of the names he gets have ever purchased from his category ... and hint, everybody has to have what this person sells. This cannot happen unless the co-op is incompetent (they aren't) or the universe is dwindling rapidly.

Catalog names are like salmon to orca whales ... if there aren't enough salmon, orca whales up here in the Pacific Northwest struggle to survive.

Your co-ops have all of your data. They could describe the catalog ecosystem to you in an hour. Heck, they could all band together, host their own conference, allow you to attend for free with all the money you've paid them, and they could give you a thorough description of the overall Catalog Brand Ecosystem. They could tell you that what used to be 14,000,000 great names was 8,000,000 three years ago and is now just 6,000,000. They could fully describe what is happening, in easy-to-understand terms. They could describe what is happening to the Catalog Brand Ecosystem. Then, they could get busy helping you move into the future.

Contact your favorite co-op immediately. Ask them to perform a Catalog Brand Ecosystem analysis for you. Ask them to explain just what the heck is causing such lousy performance. These are good people, they should respond to your request, right?