It’s never too early for catalogers to think about Election Day.
Mailers have usually have not done well when they’ve mailed around a presidential election, and the same will probably hold true this year.
But should they also be cautious around Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, when 24 states conduct their primaries?
In previous years, catalogers would do everything they could to avoid mailing around polling dates, says Geoff Batrouney, executive vice president at Estee Marketing Group.
But Batrouney thinks the public has become immunized thanks to the constant primaries and the earlier cycle. The fear that elections will distract people is way overstated.
“People tell me that they are already sick of the electioneering, so it might be that catalog mailings are received as a welcome respite from the constant distraction that is the media in full flight during a never-ending election season,” Batrouney says. “And mailboxes are stuffed with mailings from candidates and committees.”
But there are rules to follow.
Unless they are sending election-related materials, mailers will usually avoid the week prior to the general election and wait for in-home dates the weekend after the vote, says Gina Valentino, owner of catalog consultancy Hemisphere Marketing.
With Election Day being Nov. 4, catalogers should avoid mailing from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 to Nov. 6, and try to get those books in-home for Nov. 7, she adds.
The reason is two-fold. Mailboxes will be filled in late October with election-related direct mail, and too often, catalogs fall onto the “pile of unwanted,” Valentino continues. And more significant, all eyes are on the election, and no one is in the spending mood.
But what about mailing around Super Tuesday? Valentino says it’s a gray area.
“My immediate thought is that Super Tuesday doesn’t impact all states,” she says. “But this year seems to be a whole different feel, communication, and interest with the elections.”
Remember in 2000, when it was unknown for a while if George W. Bush or Al Gore had the Florida’s electoral vote? Catalog consultant Tony Cox, founder of the 5th Food Group consultancy, says it’s a good reason to send catalogs after the results are in.
“There’s always a slow response before the election,” Cox says. “But with the Florida debacle, a lot of catalogers got creamed. People were tuned to CNN and they weren’t concerned about ordering from a catalog.”
Cox, who represents about 30 gourmet food catalogers, says he too advises clients not to prospect after Election Day.