Catalogers Drawn to Alternative Opt-Out Service
During the NEMOA Conference in Burlington, Vt., on Sept. 18, representatives from two key member catalogers — Jim Feinson of Gardeners Supply and Steve Voigt of King Arthur Flour — reported strong results using the independent opt-out service Catalog Choice.
Although both use the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service (MPS) as well (rebranded DMAChoice earlier this year), both said they feel Catalog Choice is the more consumer-friendly and better promoted of the two. “Also, we’ve learned that customers don’t trust the DMA,” Feinson said. “Its service isn’t as refined and user-friendly as Catalog Choice.”
Apples to apples, Catalog Choice isn’t drastically different than MPS or more radical opt-out services, such as GreenDimes. “But they’re not well-promoted,” Feinson said of the other services. “This one [Catalog Choice] is well-backed and now has more than one million people signed on.”
Gardeners’ Runs Opt-Out Test
Feinson noted that 40,000 consumers have signed on to Catalog Choice to opt out of Gardeners Supply. “We tested contacting them, and many wanted to receive fewer catalogs from us,” he said. “We got orders from them. It’s not a great list, but we were able to retain customers and offer them other forms of contact, like our Web site and postcards, and haven’t seen any degradation in response.”
King Arthur Flour also lets consumers choose their catalog mailing frequency via Catalog Choice. “Our experience and desire is the same as Gardeners Supply,” Voigt said. “We can cut the unwanted circ, with or without replacement, and be ahead of the game sales-wise.”
As for its service, the DMA promises to unveil an improved version of DMAChoice during the DMA08 conference in Las Vegas next month. But President/CEO John Greco made a point that “as always, we leave it to all merchants to decide what’s best for their business when it comes to third-party list suppression services,” he tells Catalog Success. “We believe it’s our obligation to advise merchants to ask the right questions before entering into any agreement. An important question to ask is, ‘How will the names be used?’ making certain that consumers’ names will not be used for any other purposes now or in the future.”
DMA Hires Former Spiegel VP O’Keefe
While reacting to Catalog Choice’s moves, DMA made a move of its own to try to ward off another catalog-related challenge — the inroads made by the American Catalog Mailers Association, the group launched last year to help better assist catalogers in postal rate cases. The DMA announced on Sept. 26 that it had hired former Spiegel VP of Marketing Neil O’Keefe as VP, catalog and multichannel merchant segment, reporting directly to Senior VP of Member and Segment Services Ken Ebeling.
O’Keefe says he’ll work to improve members’ core business amid increasing competition and a turbulent economy “through research, education, advocacy and networking.”