February 24, 2009

New England vs. Silicon Valley

There are fundamental differences in the way our customers shop, based solely on geography.

New England is home to a veritable plethora of viable catalog brands, and we see a lot of orange on the map, don't we? A catalog in the mailbox is a welcome part of the day in New England.

Meanwhile, 3,000 miles across the country we find Silicon Valley. This is the hub of technological innovation! Notice that almost the entire metro Bay Area is light green or dark green --- an e-commerce hotbed.

It should not come as a surprise that the most popular third-party catalog opt-out service is located in California. For many in this region, a catalog in the mailbox is an unwelcome intrusion, symbolic of the destruction of the planet, or a relic of a bygone marketing era, at minimum.

The catalog marketer of the 2010s will have a three-pronged marketing strategy, based on customer differences and geographical variations.
  1. A catalog marketing strategy for the 50+, rural, Mountain and New England based catalog shopper.
  2. An e-commerce marketing strategy for the middle-aged suburban customer.
  3. A social shopping strategy for the under-40, suburban/urban customer who fully integrates technology with lifestyle.
This won't be easy, but it is essential to the profitability of the businesses we manage.


  1. Nice chart. I think that the Northeast will slowly turn green as the boomers diminish or move to online shopping.

    I grew up with the Sears Wish Book, but even now, if I want to buy something from LL Bean, I go to their website instead of requesting a catalog.

    I get way too many catalogs, none of them solicited, and can't remember the last time I ordered from one. Online shopping is much better since you can read reviews, compare prices, and place orders instantly.

    Paul St. Amant
    Nutley, NJ

  2. Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

  3. Kevin - I know zip code forensics is focused mainly on catalogs and purchase conversion, but what about direct mail for other purposes? An example I'm thinking of is a manufacturer looking for distributors or a franchisor looking for franchisees.

  4. I am working on a B2B version of Zip Code Forensics ... it is very different than the B2C version. What you are describing to me might be appropriate for the B2B version.


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