A Chat With March’s Profile, Martin Smith, CEO of MindWare
CS: What is the demographic targeted by the catalog?
MS: We’re targeting children overwhelmingly, but of course it’s not usually the children who are actually placing the order and certainly not paying for the order. So we’re targeting parents who have an interest and it fits the parents’ motivation, which is probably the most important thing. Parents, or the grandparents for that matter, that want to give their child something that is (a) enjoyable but (b) beneficial.
CS: Is there a specific demographic that performed better than others based off of last year’s sales?
MS: I’m not sure I could say really very much about one being better than another, but I could say, and no doubt about this, that our kind of center of gravity is very much towards professionals, higher income, high instance of both mother and father having a professional job outside the home, aged in the kind of age ranges that you would expect to have children in our target bracket, which is roughly five to 12. So it’s parents who are in their 30s and 40s, overwhelmingly.
CS: What’s the average SKU count in one of your catalogs? Number of SKUs on the Web site?
MS: It’s generally around 800 SKUs [catalog]. For the Web it’s more than that obviously, but not a lot more than that. I would say slightly in excess of 1,000.
CS: How many employees are there at MindWare?
MS: Well, we’re a highly seasonal business, but our core number of employees is in the high-20s, let’s say 28. We do take on a lot of additional labor in the fourth quarter to help with the peak business.
CS: How did you get your start in the catalog business?
MS: This is going way back in time, I think 1984. I was working at General Electric, nothing to do with the direct business per se, but working in an internal strategy consulting role for General Electric up in Connecticut. At that time, somebody who had been a senior GE executive was the CEO at Avon Products. He was interested in recruiting people with a General Electric strategic-planning background. So one thing led to another and a headhunter contacted me to see if I’d be interested in working at Avon Products. I was interested and a job came up and that job happened to be in the direct response division, as it was called at the time. So I started in Avon’s direct response division in 1984 as a planner.