November 30, 2021

The Most Interesting Mail/Holdout Test I Was Ever Part Of

Ok, the company executing the catalog mail/holdout test had their own Visa Card. And in an interesting turn of fate, the Credit Division decided to help out with the results of the analysis. They promised to match all orders across all retailers to the customers involved in a catalog mail/holdout test.

In other words, this company could see if the catalog drove sales to competitors, or if the catalog cannibalized (stole) sales from competitors.

What was the most interesting finding?

  • For every four dollars ($4) of incremental sales driven by the catalog, another six dollars ($6) of incremental sales were driven to Amazon.

Yeah, Amazon! In other words, the catalog was so effective it drove customers away from the brand to buy stuff on Amazon.


People didn't believe the results (of course), so orders by day were matched to the mail/holdout groups and we saw that the Amazon order curve looked like the catalog order curve. Sure enough, the catalog pushed people to Amazon.

Needless to say, that was one defeated group of Executives when they saw the results of the test.

Imagine working so hard on your catalog that you drive more business to Amazon than you drive to your own brand?

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