Retail Lists Add Responsive Names to Your Program

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Have you considered using a retail list for your direct mail program lately? Retail lists have a great deal to offer your mailing program, including large universes, high degrees of selectivity, reasonable pricing structures and most importantly, responsive names. For this reason, retail lists have caught the eyes of brokers and mailers, always on the lookout for new sources of names. And experience proves that these names work.


Retail lists typically offer large universes of similarly profiled consumers, which makes them ideal for consumer service offers such as credit cards, insurance offers and long distance/cellular plans. Retail lists also can provide regional mailers such as zoos, public televisions stations and local charities large quantities of names in their service areas. Another benefit of retail lists is that after segmentation, there is still a large universe of names to mail, giving the mailer ample names to test and then return to.


Let's take a closer look at retail lists. The type of product purchased gives you information about the types of products the buyer is interested in. For instance, L.A. Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness Club and Bally's Total Fitness offer buyers of health club memberships. Warner Bros. Studio Store retail buyers have purchased themed logo-merchandise of apparel, homewares and gifts. The Pier 1 Imports' list offers buyers of home decor.


Demographics and psychographics of purchaser takes type of product one step further, providing additional information about the purchaser. For example: Expressly Portraits/The Picture People are parents (mostly mothers) of children, ages newborn through age 7. Recreational Equipment's retail buyers are outdoor enthusiasts.


If your offer has an affinity with either the type of purchase or the implied lifestyle/interests of the purchaser, it's time to look at the list's available selections and locate a mailable segment.


One advantage of retail lists is that they often offer selectivity beyond r/f/m. Warner Bros. Studio Store Retail file offers selectivity by product purchased as does REI and The Good Guys. Expressly Portraits/The Picture People offers selectivity of children by age. Performance Data's retail files provide numerous selection criteria, including mail-order buyers, home ownership/value, age, income and presence/age of children. What better way to start targeting your next mail campaign than by selectively selecting those criteria that the mailer knows works.


Another factor to consider is how the names were generated. Does the retailer use direct mail to generate store traffic (Expressly Portraits/The Picture People)? Are names captured at point of purchase (Warner Bros. Studio Store)? Do customers voluntarily join the mailing list by filling out "take ones," store registers and/or sweeps/drawing entries (Crate & Barrel retail buyers and travel/vacation timeshares).


Using retail lists successfully. Based on observations of successful users of retail files and discussions with brokers and mailers, I recommend that you use the type of product being purchased, the buyer profile and what you can logically infer from that information as your starting point.


Looking at the product. The essence of the Expressly Portraits/The Picture People file is parents making a child-related purchase; thus you can assume that your child-oriented offer will reach a well-targeted audience. The unifying factor for the health club lists mentioned earlier is that these are people who are interested in how they look and feel making them naturals to receive offers from fitness-oriented publications. These basic assumptions combined with targeted selections should result in a productive segment of names for your offer.


This being said, use r/f/m and product-enhanced selections to better refine your audience. These can often be combined to reach a target or niche audience. A homewares catalog using the Warner Bros. Studio Store Retail file may want to select female buyers of kitchen/garden and stationery products along with a recency and dollar select to reach that potential homewares/gift buyer.


Some companies, such as Warner Bros., Bloomingdale's and Macy's have both a direct mail and retail list on the market. In these instances, the savvy mailer knows to use the retail list as a way of going deeper enabling them to continue to reach the same buyer profile that has already proved productive.


In reviewing the benefits of retail lists keep in mind the numerous advantages that retail lists provide for your direct mail campaign:


* Large universes allow for good-sized mailing segments even with multiple selection criteria.


* Retail lists are priced lower than direct mail lists and list owners are frequently willing to be flexible in terms of pricing.


* Many retail list owners allow telemarketing.


Retail lists, when selected properly, can be an effective addition to your direct mail program. Relying on both your own best knowledge of what works for your mailer, as well as the list manager's insights into the file, you should be able to locate productive names.


Susan Gilbert is president of the management division of Fasano and Associates, Los Angeles. Her e-mail address is sdgilbert@fasano-assoc.com.
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