Catalog Choice: Adversary? Partner? (Or Just Plain Misunderstood?)
In a teleconference last week specifically targeted at the press, Catalog Choice, a nonprofit group that’s been encouraging consumers to opt out of receiving unwanted catalog mailings, set out to clear the air. The organization believes its efforts have been shrouded in misconception, by catalogers and the press alike, since its launch last October. And this call intended to set the record straight.
Catalog Choice insists it’s not trying to hasten the end of the catalog business as we know it. Rather, its objective is to be a partner with catalog mailers, providing the opportunity for stronger relationships with consumers based on how people wish to be marketed to, said Project Manager April Smith during the conference.
Along with Executive Director Chuck Teller and consultant Larry Shaw, Smith outlined the organization’s objectives and the ways its services can benefit both consumers and catalogers, emphasizing the opportunity for better one-to-one relationships between catalogers and consumers.
At the same time, however, Catalog Choice seeks to significantly reduce multichannel merchants’ key selling tool in their part of the one-to-one: the catalog.
Still, Teller emphasized how the group is striving to clean up mailing lists by providing names of consumers who’ve moved or died. These names are provided to mailers at no charge, helping to save catalogers money they’d have spent sending catalogs to unresponsive names. “When you look at the list [suppression files provided to the mailers], you can see the financial benefits of the service,” Teller said — “not mailing catalogs to people who have no interest in this relationship with you.”
Catalogers and the Direct Marketing Association have raised a red flag in how these names are verified, as well as the removal of consumers who say they no longer wish to receive catalogs when their transactional histories reveal otherwise. Many catalogers view this as a lost revenue source, and Catalog Choice is the impetus behind it.