Shoppers Appreciate Extra Attention

Sep 13, 2004

By John Hennessy

Marianne Wilson writes in Chain Store Age about two retailers who are getting their messages through the clutter. Both Boscov’s department stores and Easy Spirit shoe stores reinforce direct mail pieces with brief, pre-recorded phone calls.

Split testing and customer feedback – through an 800 number included in the phone message – showed favorable response. Customers were also able to opt-out of the campaign via the toll-free number, but according to Kim Kolakowski, VP of credit promotions and database marketing for Boscov’s Department Stores, “The total calls to the 800 number equal less than half a percent of all calls made.”

Kolakowski quantifies the program’s success further, “The response rate was almost double for the customers who received the call and direct-mail pieces compared to those who only go the mailing.”

Both chains execute the program on a targeted basis. “Instead of notifying all customers in the database about every event, we target the right customer for the right event,” says Kolakowski.

Diane Binford, senior director of consumer-based marketing for Jones Apparel Group, New York City says, “We target the message to fit the customers transaction history. We only place calls to our best customers. We’re not looking to call people who aren’t interested in our sales.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are other creative ways retailers can get their message through to shoppers?

Marketers, particularly those trying to demonstrate loyalty to shoppers and differentiate themselves from competitors, need to be thoughtful about communication
frequency and content. As the pre-recorded voice messaging program described in the article demonstrates, this may not mean limiting shopper communications. It does mean taking
the time and effort to make your communications relevant to your shoppers. Shoppers sometimes need, and appreciate, a slight push to get them to return to a store or product they

Timing communication delivery to match or encourage a gradual increase in purchase frequency is thoughtful. Filling every shopper’s email or mailbox with
weekly fliers because that’s your schedule is not.

Taking the time to filter offer content so it makes sense based on your shoppers’ prior spending demonstrates that you’re thinking about their needs. Creating
a book of values in the hope that you include something appealing to every shopper does not.

John Hennessy – Moderator

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