Catalog Doctor: Spur Response With Unit Drivers
PATIENT: “Doc, I want to increase response from my prospecting catalog mailings. We’ve already used all of the circulation tricks that we could think of. Is there an added prescription for lifting prospect response?”
CATALOG DOCTOR: “Yes, I recommend taking the products that are your unit drivers and getting them out in front of prospects in your catalogs, emails and website.”
PATIENT: “What’s the best process for going about doing that? And how will unit drivers help increase prospect response?”
Unit Drivers and Why They Matter
A unit driver is simply a product that sells in high quantity. Why do unit drivers matter? High unit sales tell you a product has broad appeal, and broad appeal means higher response rates from a wide range of consumers — like prospects.
You can often get higher response rates from prospects by featuring your unit-driving products prominently. That means prospects see the most appealing products during their first few catalog-viewing moments. It makes them more likely to open, keep and buy from your catalog.
How to Keep From Missing Out on Your Best Unit Drivers
When it comes to product sales reports, many order management systems are more oriented toward inventory control than marketing. This means sales are shown on a SKU level rather than on a marketing level. These reports often don’t give the whole picture, however, leading to wrong decisions.
For example, let’s say you have a matching cardigan and tank top that are both shown in a single photo and sold in a single copy block. Each comes in two colors and four sizes. Two-thirds of customers buy both pieces in one order to get the matching set. If your sales are reported on a SKU level, the report will show two items, two colors and four sizes for a total of 16 line items. Your cardigan and tank top set may be a top-10 unit driver, but it’s easy to miss high unit sales for a set of products when the set’s sales are scattered across 16 lines on the report.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.