Catalog Spotlight: And the Winner Is …
As you’re all well aware, we’re closing in on the election of the 45th president of the United States of America. (I’ll keep my thoughts on the two candidates to myself.) And though you might not have thought to connect the two, elections impact catalogers’ circulation plans.
Presidential election years cause high anxiety for catalogers. The in-home dates for the most critical catalog mailings of the year — right before holiday shopping kicks off in full force — typically fall within two weeks of Election Day. Consumers are distracted by all the focus on the election and the media pulls us with breathless enthusiasm towards it, leaving catalogs to be ignored and collect dust on coffee tables throughout the country.
The challenge for catalogers is to set their in-home dates so that they suffer minimal damage from the inevitable softening of demand right before the election. Here are some tips as you plan your catalog’s holiday circulation, keeping in mind the obstacle that is a presidential election:
- Ask your printer for in-home date co-mail pool options.
- Gauge the size of the co-mail pools for catalogers both before and right after the election when deciding which pools and in-home dates best serve your catalog.
- Plan for more aggressive marketing right after the election as consumers pivot quickly to holiday buying mode.
- Be cautious about having in-home dates in the days immediately after Election Day. The week after an election is typically flooded with catalogs in the mail because of all the catalogers that held off mailing the first week in November. Know that a week to 10 days before the election will have soft sales. Hedge your bets so that all your circulation isn’t loaded into the week(s) right before the election — even if you feel you must have some circulation in-home in late October and early November.
- Don’t hope that you can move sales earlier into October for the holiday season. The harsh reality is that the holiday season starts later and later every year (despite the best efforts of retailers), and this year figures to be no different. Holiday buying won’t be on consumers’ minds in early and mid-October.
- Assume that the food fight/reality show tenor of this year’s election will continue — and may actually get worse — causing consumers even more distraction with today’s episode of the Never Trump vs. Never Hillary TV show.
- It’s going to be ugly. Count on that. However, also count on consumers to come roaring back after Election Day. Therefore, be prepared to create and harvest demand in the tight window from mid-November though Christmas.
One of the candidates will walk away from this election the winner; the other, the loser. Ensure that your catalog doesn’t fall into the latter camp by putting into place a strategy now to win the votes (i.e., dollars) of consumers this upcoming holiday season.
Jim Coogan is the founder and president of Catalog Marketing Economics, a consulting firm focused on catalog circulation planning.
Related story: Understanding Your Holiday Catalog Circulation Results