Crisis Drives Innovation for Catalog Mailers
Abacus recommended digging deep into individual prospecting lists; measuring their profitability over time; and looking at variables such as season of purchase, dollar value of purchase and merchandise categories purchased to find “preselects” that help co-ops find better customers.
* Catalogers were discussing how best to know if the fall in response rates has bottomed out. One quick and clear metric that emerged was comparing monthly sales for this year vs. last year to see how sales are trending. Catalogers are tracking month-by-month sales, comparing this year to last year on a monthly and quarterly basis.
The other side of the coin is looking at how response rates will rebound. Will they rebound to the levels of two years ago? Or will the rebound be a more modest recovery, where response will be a slight improvement over the response rates in the darkest days of the recession?
* Catalogers have seen some cost relief in the decline in paper and printing prices. The first postage “sale” in history is about to begin. Paper prices ratcheted down again, and printing prices also are being selectively cut as printers have to match competitive bids and cut price to keep business.
* Catalogers also reacted positively to news of the USPS' “summer sale.” While not perfect — many smaller-volume-mailing catalogers don't qualify — the sale is a first step in the post office recognizing that lower prices might mean greater volume and actually increased profitability.
* Arandell rolled out a prospecting catalog with page counts aimed at maximizing the cost efficiency of catalogs, letting catalogers prospect at a whole new level. Putting out a high-quality, low-cost prospecting catalog allows mailers to continue to reach out to new customers profitably. Working on minimizing the “in-the-mail” costs of catalogs also recognizes that Web-savvy customers may not need as many pages of merchandise to trigger Web traffic.