Face of the Nation Is Changing, and So Should Catalogs

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SAN FRANCISCO -- "How many times do we have to tell the world that we're not a whole bunch of white people anymore?"

That was just one of many pronouncements by consumer trends expert Phil Lempert, yesterday's keynote speaker at The Annual Catalog Conference here.

The Hispanic population is expected to increase 30 percent from 2000 to 2010, he said, while the Asian population is to rise 42 percent.

He then asked the audience to indicate by show of hands whether they produce a Spanish-language catalog. He counted four hands.

"Shame on the rest of you," he said. "You don't want [a lot] of the U.S. population."

He also examined age.

"I guarantee that those of you that are using eight-point type in your catalogs will not have a lot of people over 40 reading them," he said.

He also noted a conversation he had with a former president of Coca-Cola about five years ago.

"He said to me what he was concerned about ... was the fact that with the rise in the Latin population, this is a generation, this is an ethnic population, that is not cola drinkers," he said. "Americans, typically, have been cola drinkers from birth.

"How are they going to capture those?"

Lempert told the Coca-Cola boss that he should worry about his baby boomer consumers.

"Fifty percent of all people over the age of 50 have arthritis," he said. "And do you really think that a baby boomer loves Coca-Cola so much that opening up one of those flip-top cans when you've got arthritis in your hand ... is going to keep that consumer coming back?

"What are you doing to make your catalogs and your products aging-baby-boomer friendly?"

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