January 18, 2012

Blog Post #2,016

This is my 2,016th blog post since starting this forum back in 2006.

In the course of 2,016 blog posts, the world changed:
  • In 2006, housing prices were increasing, they were literally "bubbleicious".  In 2012, you can buy a home for about half of what you purchased it for in 2006.
  • In 2006, customer productivity largely peaked, beginning to decline in 2007, collapsing in 2008, bottoming out in 2009.  During the next two years, productivity rebounded, for some, back to 2006 levels, which honestly doesn't work so well when you consider what was lost to inflation over the past six years.
  • In 2006, the Catalog Conference still existed, and trade journals actively covered the catalog industry.  In 2012, only NEMOA is there for the catalog industry, and if you look at the agenda for the Spring 2012 conference, it reflects a whole different world than existed in 2006.
  • In 2006, you loaded software on to your laptop.  In 2012, you purchase an app for your iPad, a device birthed from the iPhone, a device that didn't exist in 2006.
  • In 2006, the cloud was a place where precipitation was sourced from.  In 2012, the cloud is the place where you store your music collection.
  • In 2006, eBay did $4.6 billion in net sales.  In 2012, eBay is forecast to do $5.0 billion in mobile sales alone.  Let that fact sink in for a moment.
  • In 2006, social commerce was you and a friend shopping at the mall.  In 2012 social commerce is hyped as the next big thing.
  • In 2006, Best Buy was hyped as a classic example of a successful "bricks 'n clicks" strategy, competing against Circuit City and their vaunted "buy online, pick-up in store strategy".  In 2012, Best Buy hosts physical showrooms that help customers make smart purchase choices on Amazon.com, and Circuit City is gone.
  • In 2006, you purchased a book at Borders.  In 2012, you buy a book on a device called a "Kindle" from Amazon, a company that previously hosted half of the "bricks 'n clicks" strategy employed by Borders.  By the way, that book is stored "in the cloud".
  • In 2006, you didn't have to verify income to purchase a home.  In 2012, many don't have any income and can't afford to buy a home.
  • In 2006, a "Tea Party" represented a quaint gathering among friends.  In 2012, the "Tea Party" is a political force, countered by the "Occupy Movement".
  • In 2006, Twitter started with 1 user.  In 2012, Twitter has 300,000,000 users worldwide.
So, the world seems a bit different today than in 2006.

When I started this blog in 2006, catalogers were firmly convinced that they were "multichannel" brands.  We mailed catalogs, customers visited our websites and purchased, and we felt very comfortable that we "solved the e-commerce" problem.

Then we stopped innovating, didn't we?  We contented ourselves with the knowledge that we knew how customers shopped.  When we tried new channels, "they didn't work", so we further dug our heels in and pushed catalogs as the primary shopping channel.  Coupled with a dependence upon co-ops, we accelerated the aging of our customer base, making it even harder for us to demonstrate that newer channels "work", further pushing us back to catalog marketing as the primary communication vehicle.

This evolution in catalog marketing is documented across the past 2,016 blog posts.  In fact, this might be the only place on the internet that documents how catalog marketers succeed or fail in a time of change.  

If these changes happened in six years, what the heck is going to happen between now and 2018?  And as catalogers, we need to ask ourselves what place we have in a world that will look very different in 2018?



  1. More than 2.000 blog posts in around 5 years. Wow.

    Keep on going.


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