May 01, 2011

Dear Catalog CEOs: Customer Demographics And Multichannel Issues

Have you taken a look at the channels that customers in various age bands use?

It's an enlightening exercise.

You have one whole group of Social Media pundits telling you that you are dead if you don't get serious about engaging the modern consumer.

You have one whole group of Multi-Channel pundits telling you to execute integrated campaigns across multiple touchpoints, because best customers "do everything", so you'll improve response if you saturate every channel with the same merchandise at the same price with the same presentation (analyzed out of an integrated database).

You have new media pundits telling you that if you don't have an industry-leading mobile app by October, you will be out of business.

And then we have you.

You live in the real world.  You work at a real company that has to make quarterly numbers.  You don't write clever headlines to maximize page views or re-tweets.  You have to sell something, or you lose your job.

In the real world, customers do multiple things, however, those "multiples" are defined by the age band the customer resides in.

And, yes, I willingly admit that there are 72 year olds that love using an iPad.  I willingly admit that there are 27 year olds who thumb through catalogs, then write checks and use the post office to mail orders to catalog brands.

Look at your own data.  It is likely that your own data looks a lot like the image above.

In other words, there are Social Media experts that are 100% right about Social Media being a vehicle for driving sales, because these folks cater to a customer demographic that craves Social Commerce.

And there are New Media experts that are 100% right about the fact that you need an iPad app tomorrow or the world is coming to an end ... because in the crowd that the New Media expert runs in, the New Media expert sees the tidal wave coming.

And there are Catalog Marketing experts that are 100% right about the fact that customers still lick stamps and mail orders in envelopes ... they fully know that their customer will never, every, use an iPad app to bond with others in a Social Commerce nirvana.

Know your customer.

You don't have to be everything to everybody.

But if your current customer is on the right-hand side of this chart, you might want to think about building a new brand, one that capitalizes on the tactics on the left-hand side of this chart.  That's a marketing strategy that has a better chance of success than trying to ram a catalog down the throat of a 24 year old, or trying to force a 64 year old to use an app to shop.


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