Spofford offered somewhat contradicting theories on the lengths of customer surveys. Although she suggested that you keep your questionnaire to no more than 25 questions, the average talk time in Appleseed’s phone surveys was 43 minutes. “We had no abandonment problem,” she recalls. “That means women loved talking and love shopping.”
Specifically, Appleseed’s asks a lot of “hearts and minds” questions. This led to four key segments among its customer base:
* 38 percent like to stay a standout;
* 24 percent are content conservative;
* 21 percent are sporty shoppers; and
* 17 percent are confident classics.
From these four segments, Appleseed’s created two hypothetical composite customers. “Kate” is a 60-year-old baby boomer, who’s confident, classic and wants to be comfortable in her clothes. She wants to feel up-to-date and look attractive. She doesn’t feel like she’ll ever be old, but is realistic about it.
“Bev” is between the ages of 65 and 75 and of the World War II generation. She’s conservative, classic, and relies on the brands and products she trusts to make her feel comfortable and neatly put together.
Together, Spofford said, the two customer profiles require “the Appleseed’s hug,” the marketer’s service model on the phone, in stores and on the Web.
2. A healthy diet with plenty of nourishment and little fat. Spofford discussed the benefits of being part of a multititle conglomerate. “We have a shared database with our sister companies,” she pointed out, “and we believe we have 65 percent of the names of women 55-plus who shop direct. We have full transactional history and the ability to model internally.”
With that data, Appleseed’s and The Tog Shop both have “fit circulation,” meaning the company focuses on making sure it’s not overcirculating catalogs. “We put profitability before growth,” Spofford said. “We’re constantly talking about that balance of profitability vs. growth and are very clear that we’ll circulate for profitability.”