June 20, 2008

Attention Catalogers: Co-Ops (Abacus) And Matchbacks

If you do customer acquisition via catalog marketing, you undoubtedly elected to drink the co-op kool-aid. And why not? Based on our reporting (sometimes provided by co-ops like Abacus), co-op lists outperform outside lists.

I've mentioned this before, and I want to mention it again, because the topic keeps coming up in various projects I work on. Co-op customers tend to be more likely to purchase over the telephone than rental/exchange customers.

And since phone orders are nearly 100% attributable to the advertising vehicle sent to the customer (whereas online orders are at best semi-attributable if matchback analytics are performed properly), co-op names may "appear" to perform better simply because of the channel preference of the customer selected by the co-op.

This has long-term implications for the brands we shepherd. If co-op names work "best", with co-op customers more likely to order over the phone, we then "have" to mail catalogs in the future to get the demand. And by having to mail catalogs, we have to keep feeding the entire catalog ecosystem --- printers, merge/purge houses, USPS, the paper industry, and the co-ops.

By feeding the catalog ecosystem, we anger some customers and prospects, which feeds the rampant growth of Catalog Choice.

We create our own problems, folks!

If you are a heavy user of co-ops, please consider extensive matchback analytics. At minimum, use the Migration Probability Table as outlined in Multichannel Forensics to understand future channel preference of co-op sourced names. You're in for a treat if you do!


  1. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Hi Kevin,

    I work for a large multi brand UK based cataloguer which, to date, has refrained from utilising the UK equivalent of Co-op’s. However, this is an option we have been looking in to for a specific project. As such I’d be grateful if you could point me in the direction of early posts relating to “Co-op customers tend to be more likely to purchase over the telephone than rental/exchange customers.”?


  2. Here's one:


    You can also do a search for the word "Abacus".

    The relationships between co-ops and companies and customers are different for everybody, but do generalize down to the themes I speak of.


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