State of the Co-ops ’08
With mailing costs rising and the economy slumping, will catalog co-op databases remain relevant in tomorrow’s multichannel direct-marketing environment?
The pool of hot names is certainly drying up as the number of catalog mailers is thinning. Witness the passing — or likely scaled-down futures — of the Lillian Vernon, BlueSky Brands, Bloomingdale’s by Mail and The Sharper Image catalogs. Likewise, the number of co-op databases fell to seven over the past year, with American List Counsel pulling the plug on its PerformanceLink database after two years.
This year’s report, with each co-op listed in alphabetical order, recaps what each of them has been up to over the past year and how their existence remains critical for catalogers.
At Abacus this has been a year of self-examination and refinement. The company took a hard look at existing business models to find viable alternatives to “business as usual,” in hopes of easing the pressure many catalogers face. It’s done this by continuing to develop and refine Abacus [ONE], an advanced fulfillment methodology the company launched nearly 18 months ago.
“We’ve taken our core modeling capabilities and added some intellectual property in terms of combining models and fulfilling that universe to our clients,” says Senior Vice President of Cooperative Data Services Casey Carey. He estimates that nearly two-thirds of the co-op’s clients have converted to the Abacus [ONE] platform, realizing an 11 percent increase in performance and a 55 percent increase in available universe.
Abacus intends to serve the lower circulation, niche mailers in its co-op with FastPath, its latest offering in association with data services provider CompuTech Direct. This product provides mailers with 100 percent of their circ combined with list processing. “We call that a ‘printer-ready’ solution,” Carey says. Forty-four clients have rolled out 110 campaigns using the offering.