Catalogs – Sending the Wrong Message with Direct Mail…Take 2

I took note that Martin’s last blog about catalogs received quite a bit of attention from readers; it seems most of whom disagreed with his commentary about retailers severely limiting, if not outright cancelling, their catalog-based selling efforts.

I think the answer falls somewhere in the middle, and represents generational CRM, which is becoming more and more important now that the largest consumer segment in this country, the baby boomers, is entering their 50s and 60s.

Generational CRM is a topic I’ve blogged about before, and in a nutshell, is the concept of tailoring a business’ sales and marketing initiatives around generational trends, and thus incorporating attitudinal data into a company’s CRM initiatives.

The answer also speaks to the importance of retailers providing a fully integrated, seamless multichannel experience to the consumer. Retailers have been notoriously slow in understanding this. The emergence of online shopping is forcing companies to reconsider the way in which they sell and market to consumers, and thus how they manage the customer experience in the store, on the Web, or in the mail. More importantly, it’s forcing retailers to think of them as one.

For example, many older generations still use catalogs to shop, but not necessarily buy, products. In essence, catalogs are becoming a de facto marketing tool for retailers. Abolishing them entirely eliminates a key channel for consumers to access information about a company’s products and/or services.

The key for retailers is identifying these generational shopping and purchasing habits and tying them into their multichannel CRM initiatives. In the end, retailers will keep those consumers that leverage catalogs happy and save money on reducing printing and shipping costs by sending catalogs to young bucks like Martin and I.