We Cut Cable: What This Means to Retailers
Our cable bill doubled. Apparently we had an introductory rate — which lasted more than five years. We had nearly 500 channels, and nothing ever seemed to be on, so we cut cable. Cold turkey. Even returned the cable company's DVR full of unwatched episodes of nothing in particular.
Those astronomical cable fees are primarily for sports channels, aka ESPN 1, 2, 3 to infinity. For me, watching the NFL on a Sunday afternoon is a step above slashing my wrists. I love a live baseball game, especially with a ballpark brat (extra sauerkraut) and a cold beer. Watching that same game on TV? Not enough brats in the world to keep my interest. Why pay close to $2,000 a year for cable sports that we don't watch? We'd get everything we wanted on Netflix, Hulu or some other service.
Guess what we missed first? Sports.
We cut cable in February, just before March Madness. What were we thinking? We found the games online, but it was a pain.
Then there was the Tour de France. Missed it. I have some lame iPad app that supposedly covers cycling, but it wasn't worth the time. And guess what? The Kansas City Royals (my hometown team) actually have a shot at making the playoffs this year. The World Cup is next summer, with the Olympics hot on its tail. Maybe I'll get another introductory cable offer by then.
So what's the lesson? Customer-reported data is of questionable value. Transactions (e.g., actual purchases, requests for quotes and catalogs, etc.) is where it's at. If you asked me in February whether I watched sports on TV, I would have responded, "Virtually never." In mid-August, I see things differently.
So stop wasting time on Survey Hominoid or whatever. Study your transactional data. Everything you need is in there.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.