Revelations Through Data Mining (1,141 words)
By Scott Shrake
How housefile analysis helps The Parable Group's Christian booksellers use catalogs
to drive retail sales
It was one of those "Aha!" moments, says Jim Seybert, vice president of marketing for The Parable Group, a company that 330 independent Christian booksellers nationwide turn to for catalog and retail marketing expertise. Seybert continues: "An early eye opener for me about the power of housefile analysis came several years ago when the folks at KnowledgeBase Marketing [then known as Dynamic Marketing] gave us some lifestyle summaries of who our stores' customers are and what they look like."
Among the findings was information that altered and will continue to shape Parable's merchandising and marketing efforts. For instance, Parable's customers are nearly three-and-a-half times as likely as the general population index to have children present in the home and more than two-and-a-half times as likely to have four or more children. As a result, says Seybert, "We looked at that and at the product mix in our catalogs and stores and realized that there was a huge opportunity to add more children's products to our catalogs. We grew that from a few pages to a complete 24-page catalog-within-a-catalog, bound into our larger books." The end result is soaring kids' product retail sales.
Learning About Its Customers
Describing early responses to the housefile analysis, Seybert says, "It was like an amazing revelation to us when we got to looking at these people against the general population."
Actually, Seybert admits, "You would think we'd already know some of this because it seems like it should be obvious." Unfortunately, Parable and its member stores didn't know much more than the fact that its retail buyers were typically 18- to 45-year-old Christian females. What else could be learned from looking deeper into its customer file? Here's a look at the average Parable Group store customer compared to average Americans: