Top brokers describe today’s challenging catalog list market
Papalia: The buzz is that many catalog mailers are cutting back their circulation, so the challenge for managers this year, more so than ever, will be to meet/exceed their list owners’ financial expectations. Consumers’ lack of confidence in the security of Internet sales has, and will continue to, bolster [print] catalog sales. Although they surf the Web and request catalogs, many consumers continue to buy directly from catalogs.
Catalog Success: What’s the greatest challenge for catalogers in terms of finding prospect names to mail?
Belardi: The biggest challenge is getting strong performance at acceptable acquisition rates. The net-outs from mailing lists are continuing to decline, and subsequently, the cost of finding new buyers is driven up. While catalogers are attempting to mail “smarter” using tighter segmentation and co-op database models, as well as exchanging more, they all end up mailing to the same buyers. Response rates suffer, as well.
Bogner: It hasn’t changed: The greatest challenge is that there just aren’t a lot of new lists coming along. But, on the positive side, you have newer tools to work with, more vehicles for making existing lists work—things like using Z-24 to make a magazine file work for a catalog mailing.
Maylander: The challenge has been finding fresh names from new catalog launches, new channels and new markets. Many mature catalogers are prospecting flat compared to last year and thus only targeting their most profitable lists and limiting testing to only sure bets. Unless a cataloger launches a new product line that targets a secondary market, we are left with targeting the same core lists with each mail campaign.
Mickolajczyk: The greatest challenge in finding prospect lists is the same as it always has been ... finding enough high-quality names at an acceptable price. As catalogers’ costs have accelerated, the acceptable level of performance for prospecting keeps rising, with more and more lists moving to the marginal or unprofitable categories. The game’s the same, it’s just that the costs—and stakes—are higher.