Email – The New Catalog Killer?

Email – The New Catalog Killer?

Recently, L Brands – parent of Victoria’s Secret and home to the famous (and some would say infamous) Victoria’s Secret catalog – announced a strategic change “evolving how the business connects with customers through more focus on loyalty programs and brand-building engagement rather than traditional catalogues and offers.”

For the catalog operation, this is potentially devastating news. For the email teams, however, this provides ample opportunity to prove one point – email is the new king of the marketing hill. Yes, email – you know, the “dead” channel – will now be tasked with a front and center role in driving marketing results. It’s akin to Daniel Larusso not only taking down the Kobra Kai…but then wiping out Chuck Norris (and all his memes) as well.

Email does one thing spectacularly well – it “rekindles” interest among people who have already expressed some level of interest. Email “keeps the ball rolling” better than any other medium. Email powers your loyalty programs by helping consumers to remember why they bought from you in the first place, all at a cost of pennies on the dollar compared to traditional print catalogues.

Another benefit of email? It reaches all age groups equally well. Catalogs are great for reaching older consumers but email spans generations – the 25 year olds who ignore catalogs can be frequently and gently reminded of your brand, usually right into the palm of their hand. Right where the catalog used to be.

Here’s a test you can run to prove a point. Take a segment of your current customer file and divide it in three. Send one group a catalog only. Send one group an email only. Send one group both catalog and email. Measure – at the database level – the online and offline activity of each group. Compare to the cost of each group. See for yourself how valuable your catalog is –or is not.

On the down side, email has trouble in reaching new buyers as well as other channels. L Brands will need to put a lot of though behind how they continue to maintain brand presence absent the high-res photography, tactile nature and persistency of the physical catalog.

Will email prove to be the ultimate catalog killer? If you’re L Brands…it looks like it already has.