quare inch analysis (SQUINCH) is an extraordinary tool for consumer and business catalogers alike. Sorted and executed the right way, a comprehensive SQUINCH can serve as a creative road map to your catalog campaigns, just as your contact strategy defines the plan from a marketing perspective.
A comprehensive square inch analysis allows you to evaluate product sales and placement to determine whether the right product, price point or category is given the appropriate amount of space in the right location in your catalog. And by basing the analysis on customer behavior, as culled through transactional data, you can keep your “gut feeling” from being the primary driver of the catalog’s merchandise and creative development.
For business-to-business (b-to-b) mailers, the squinch process may not feel as comfortable as it does for consumer catalogers for a number of reasons. First, there are the sheer number of pages and item counts. It’s relatively common for b-to-b catalogers to feature thousands of SKUs or produce books that have hundreds of pages. In fact, some business mailers refer to their big books (400-plus pages) as catalogs, but their smaller books (as large as 72 pages) as flyers. The SQUINCH process can be as meaningful — or perhaps more so — for those smaller piece mailings as for the big books.
Second, the data aren’t always the easiest to understand. B-to-b catalogers have so many difficult-to-track order sources that it often is next to impossible to determine what role the catalog plays in the selling process and how responsible it is for the actual order. If your business book doesn’t struggle in this regard, consider yourself lucky.
Finally, it’s challenging to use analysis and incorporate your findings into the next round of creative. Often b-to-b catalogers say the products they sell are purchased out of need, not want (a critical difference from consumer mailers) and that no amount of photo glamour or effective hot-spot utilization will peddle more merchandise. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean the squinch process isn’t useful in other ways.