Kayaking, Partying & Profits
“It seemed like such a dumb idea, but it took off,” States says. “And the tape is cheap to produce.” Turning what seemed at first like a “dumb idea,” typifies States’ approach to the business.
“Eric’s beyond the classic entrepreneur,” observes John Hunt, president/CEO of Santa Barbara-based Compuvision, a local area technology consulting firm. “He’s daring and willing to take on new businesses, and basically has no fear whatsoever. He just decided one day to move into the catalog business; read up on it, taught himself, and with no mentors to help him, jumped right in. I’ve never met anybody with that ability.”
After 5 originally was designed as a men’s book. “Guys like to party and set up parties,” States says. But it’s evolved, and women ages 34 to 55 now account for 65 percent of the book’s sales. “That was kind of a shock for me, and it changed the perspective of the catalog. So we added more products, such as Cosmo Queen T-shirts, specifically for women.”
After 5 primarily attracts the deeper pockets of the middle-aged market with income ranging from $75,000 to $150,000. “We first used list brokers and the dynamics of modeling to get us lists of upscale prospects,” States says. “And although we have a lot of fun college-age drinking toys, we’ve never marketed toward the under-35 group. They’re more Web savvy and aren’t getting our catalogs, yet. So we built blogs to go to an audience that’s never seen our book.”
As a result, After 5 likely will make a greater impression on the 21 to 34 market. “It’s an area we’re experimenting with because we’ve neglected it,” States says. And considering that more than 60 percent of the catalog’s sales are placed online, he expects greater interest among younger people.