For some reason, I often feel the need to reflect back on my past experience in the catalog/multichannel business when I write these things. Is that typical for these kinds of columns and newsletters? Or at 47, am I just gettin’ old? Hopefully the former, because here I go again.
These days, it seems like more and more “rules” of cataloging must be changed for myriad reasons: to account for unfair postal rates, to cater to consumers’ reduced attention spans and to accommodate catalogers’ increased reliance on other marketing channels, namely the Web and retail for consumer marketers and the Web, distribution advancements, telemarketing and in some cases, retail for B-to-B marketers.
The rules also have to change to accommodate consumers’ changing shopping patterns. Here are my three most noteworthy recent rule changes in order of severity:
1. Copywriting: There’s a dwindling number of Americans who have the patience to do much of anything these days, much less read globs and globs of copy. When it comes to newspapers, magazines, catalogs and the like, many consumers have had their reading habits abridged by assorted cultural changes.
I’m sure this goes all the way back to the advent of TV. Thankfully, I can’t hark back that far, but the YouTube phenomenon seems to be reducing everything to a two- to 10-minute clip.
Even more notably, the abundance of reading material available on the Web has tightened our reading patience levels because we’re all in such a rush to click to the next page. There’s more to read! There’s more to read! Gotta move on! Gotta move on!
There always have been pop culture phenomena that counter these trends. For instance, Harry Potter fans are joyfully and patiently sitting down and reading all 759 pages of “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows.” The No. 1 grossing movie of all time, “Titanic,” is three hours and 17 minutes in length. Nevertheless, the trend is primarily toward shorter, quicker.