Old School Is OK

You crowd the plate. You get chin music;  You run a six-yard sideline out and celebrate like it was a TD, and next time you come across the middle — you’re seeing stars; and youse gotta pay your dues before you get promoted.  Yes, I like old school.

And old school is OK for retailers per a recent Wall Street Journal article that John Barry, with ColorDynamics recently shared with me.

It seems that many online retailers are starting to figure it out.  In the WSJ article, Bonobos, the menswear brand built on the idea of better-fitting pants has seen the light.  Per the WSJ, “Bonobos mailed a test catalog just over a year ago to a small number of current and potential customers. Results prompted the brand to try several more, gradually increasing circulation each time. Now, some 20% of the website’s first-time customers are placing their order after having received a catalog, says Craig Elbert, vice president of marketing for Bonobos. They spend 1.5 times as much as new shoppers who didn’t receive a catalog first.”

And many traditional store retailers with a history of catalogs remain as committed as ever.

“It’s still a very, very important part of our marketing mix,” says Pat Connolly, chief marketing officer at Williams-Sonoma Inc., parent company to seven brands with catalogs including Pottery Barn and West Elm. Consumers “look through it to get ideas and inspiration. And if we do a good job, they get ideas for things they didn’t even know they wanted before they got there.”

And if you’re old school and numbers never lie, try these metrics from the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) — marketers mailed 11.9 billion catalogs in 2013, the first uptick in years.  Granted we’re not at the 19.6 billion level of 2007, but that was in a galaxy, far, far away.

Regardless, that’s a lot of print still out there — and with shorter and shorter runs and more targeted mailings, catalog printing is no longer just in the realm of the Big Boys — and that’s not old school.


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