Catalogers are Turning to the Co-op Databases for Prospecting
At Crutchfield, a cataloger of car audio and home theater products, marketing analyst George Michie reveals, "We're placing more emphasis on the alliances, such as Abacus and Z-24. We're finding those more successful than individual list rental now.
"By providing us with transaction-level data," he continues, "the co-op alliances give us the ability to prospect based on a broad range of purchasing behavior, which, when carefully modeled, is very powerful."
Catalog consultant Jack Schmid of J. Schmid & Associates says many of his firm's clients are having good results mailing co-op segments. He says a cataloger that has any of the following in its housefile should test co-ops:
- catalog requesters who haven't yet purchased;
- gift recipients from the past one to two years; or
- inactive, older buyers who would be below breakeven if you mailed the entire lot.
Scoping Out the Co-ops
Co-ops are specialists in statistical modeling, and they now offer better and more sophisticated models at less cost, says Schmid. Indeed, co-ops offer attractive pricing for cost-conscious mailers. Typically, membership is free, and you can get a volume of names at a reasonable cost—averaging around $70/M, compared to individual file rentals that cost upwards of $100/M.
With numerous players in the market today, you can join more than one co-op. And frequently the co-ops' data complements one another. List broker Donna Belardi, president of ALC of NY, observes: "While Abacus still appears to have retained most of the market share, Z-24 in particular is starting to work consistently well. And many catalogers have found pockets of success with smaller databases like I-Behavior and Prefer Network."
As a mailer that has worked with several co-ops, Crutchfield has found pluses and minuses to each. Calling Abacus "the Wal-Mart of the catalog co-ops," Michie says, "Their lists and models tend to outshine the others in terms of performance and the sheer volume of transactional data." But, he adds, the other co-ops often have data that bring unique elements to the mix.