March 29, 2012


Twitter user @mattgratt forwards us this Techcrunch video with Nils Johnson of Beautylish (click here for the video).  Via Quantcast, Beautylish had somewhere around 50,000 visitors last month.

For catalogers, there are themes that will resonate, and themes that are contrary to what is known in the catalog world.
  • Importance of a brand (catalogers would agree).
  • Importance of proprietary products over curated assortments (catalogers would agree).
  • Offering great quality at a low price (many catalogers offer great quality at a fair price ... this is a fundamental difference that is not yet well understood).
  • Low-cost customer acquisition of Jasmine-like customers via Social Media (completely opposite of how catalogers view the world ... catalogers = high-cost customer acquisition via co-ops).
I continue to observe stark contrasts between e-commerce startups, traditional catalog brands, and the first generation of e-commerce businesses when it comes to customer acquisition.
  • Catalogers = High-Cost Co-Ops (finding 55+ rural customers ... Judy).
  • 1st Generation E-Commerce = High-Cost Paid Search (finding Jennifer) coupled with %-off / discounts.
  • Current E-Commerce Startups = Low-Cost Social Media to find Jasmine.
Each strategy requires a very different mindset.

For catalogers, we struggle with Jennifer/Jasmine when we try to integrate all channels around the catalog ... yielding an unprofitable Jennifer/Jasmine experience that results in a file disproportionately skewed toward Judy.

Pay attention to how startups approach the "Jasmine Problem".  I'm not saying they are going to succeed, but the chance of success is greater than it is for catalogers to try to train Jasmine to embrace classic direct marketing.

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