Find Ways to Promote Your Inconvenient, Truthful Actions
Outside forces typically are the tipping point when it comes to influencing this industry to take action. Eighteen years in the making, the sustainability and environmentalism movement is picking up steam. Compound that with catalogers facing some pretty bad press from environmental groups like Catalog Choice, GreenDimes and ForestEthics. Beyond the widely communicated issues here, there are some telling signs.
For instance, a recent consumer survey conducted by DoubleClick Performics revealed that 83 percent of respondents will choose environmentally friendly items over similar nonenvironmental products, and almost half of those respondents say they’re willing to pay at least 5 percent more for environmental products.
How much longer will it take before multichannel marketers grasp this movement en masse? Typically, there must be an immediate payoff or significant cost saving in sight, which is what makes the environmental movement so difficult for so many mailers. Consider how three past trends and movements in this business have taken off.
* Toll-free numbers (mid-1980s): Although toll-free numbers predate the ’80s, their costs became manageable for catalogers during the Reagan era. Mailers enjoyed fairly instant gratification by employing 800 numbers, because although they now had to pay a new phone bill, increased response more than made up for this cost. Consumers far preferred dialing 800 numbers than placing orders in the mailbox. And the labor involved in opening order-form envelopes and processing snail-mailed orders declined noticeably.
* The slim jim (mid-1990s): In 1995, after getting slammed by another in a long line of killer postage increases, catalogers found a nifty little loophole in postal regulations: those odd-shaped books called “slim jims,” measuring no more than 6-1/8 in. by 11-1/2 in. and 1/4 in. thick, and sealed by those little round stickers called wafer seals.
This trend was hardly widespread. Although they offered considerable postage savings, slim jims hindered response. They still can negatively affect response today even though many consumers have become pretty familiar with the size. Although a change in postal regulations may soon make slim jims impractical, if not obsolete, over the years they’ve provided a more affordable outlet for certain types of multichannel merchants, particularly those who sell lower-end goods.