September 24, 2013

Merchandise And Demographics Interact

I constantly run into situations where the marketing team wants to "attract a younger customer".

Let me tell you something. The merchandise you offer the customer, and the creative style used to portray the merchandise directly correlates with the customer you will attract.

Take a look at the blouse/scarf combination, courtesy of Paula Young. Do you think our friend, Jasmine, is going to be interested in this combo? I know, I know, you'll say that the discounts at an order level and the item level price adjustment are enticing, and they certainly are, but come on!

This is a Judy-centric item. Judy is going to buy this. And when presented in a catalog, it attracts a customer like Judy. Catalog marketing also attracts a customer like Judy. So the whole thing is a big ecosystem designed to attract a 60 year old customer. The merchandising strategy and creative strategy yield a predicable outcome, one that the marketer cannot challenge, without taking a profit and loss statement bath.

Here's an item, courtesy of our friends over at L.L. Bean (hi y'all!):

We're in Jennifer / Jasmine territory here, aren't we? It's unlikely that Judy will wear this. Notice the model - she's not Judy either, is she? What demographic profile will this item attract?

And then we have this example from Lands' End.

This is Jasmine, and heck, we're starting to push into Jadyn territory, aren't we?

This happens at every single company I put through the Merchandise Forensics framework. Every single company. Products align with Judy, Jennifer, or Jasmine. Have too many "Judy-centric" products, and your whole business aligns with Judy, locking you into catalog marketing. Have too many Jasmine-centric products, and you'll quickly observe that traditional marketing is less likely to work.

If you don't append age data to your customer file, then simply use a mail/phone ... online matched to a catalog ... email ... search ... pure online ... mobile/social framework. Each marketing channel simulates age ranges. Items that sell well in a pure online / mobile / social channel distribution align with Jasmine - hint, the winning items in these categories frame the future of your business. Meanwhile, items that appeal to the mail/phone shopper align with Judy. These items are your past, unless, of course, your target customer is Judy ... then these items are your bread/butter.

In every Merchandise Forensics project, I can identify the items that align with demographic profiles ... especially my Judy/Jennifer/Jasmine personas. This tells us how to merchandise landing pages, email campaigns, and the first twenty pages of a catalog marketing program.

Pretty important, don't you think?

Click here to purchase Hillstrom's Merchandise Forensics on Amazon.

Email me ( to get your own, customized project performed for you.

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