Some Not-So-Obvious Ways to Get Through the Tough Holiday Season Ahead
Reading retail sales, housing sales and consumer confidence reports the past couple of weeks while watching the stock market sink, I’ve become quite worried about the outlook for the holiday season for catalog/multichannel marketers.
Retailers collectively reported their worst October in 12 years, and a Conference Board report last week said consumer confidence dropped in early November to its lowest level since Hurricane Katrina triggered soaring oil prices two years ago. Meanwhile, recent reports from the National Association of Realtors showed sales of existing homes had plunged to their lowest level in nearly a decade. None of this bodes well for catalogers.
So for this edition of The Corner View, I contacted members of the Catalog Success editorial board to see what kinds of advice they could offer other catalogers who are trying to keep this holiday season from becoming a disaster. Specifically, I asked the following:
Aside from the obvious — heavy discounting and free-shipping offers — how can catalogers make the most of what could be a tough season ahead?
Although some of the answers I got were a little more applicable to 2008, many can be implemented right now. As one board member points out, much of the catalog market has “shifted to value and luxury. We can’t compete with value unless we discount heavily and offer free shipping. That works for goods we no longer want in our warehouses. Luxury is game on. And ironically, that is where most of the innovative products are. Those of us heading into holiday know this; others will learn the hard way.”
I’ve organized their pointers by category below. Some board members were on the record, others requested anonymity; so I just pooled and paraphrased all their responses and got a whopping 83 percent response from the board! (Thanks folks!) For a complete list of our editorial advisory board, see the masthead of any print issue of Catalog Success, or go to www.catalogsuccess.com/docs/staff.bsp to see bios of the board and our staff.