Let's look at a quote from the 10-K at Restoration Hardware (you read 10-K statements from publicly traded companies ... right ... right?).
In case that is TL:DR for you, here's what I want you to take from this:
- Our Source Books are one of our primary branding and advertising vehicles.
- No mention of profitability. None. Interesting.
- They have a "RH Center of Innovation & Product Leadership" which most of the companies I work with call "2nd floor" or "Creative".
- They mail the Source Book to "addresses provided to us by third parties" ... a fancy way of saying "we rent names from co-ops".
The future of catalog marketing is a shift away from the classic business model (which began to die the minute Google began to "scale" nearly twenty years ago) into an advertising / branding vehicle. Something very different than a vehicle that maximizes sales per square inch. I can barely believe I just uttered this sentence, since it goes against everything I've historically believed ... but here we are, and we may as well acknowledge it, right?