Power Forum Participants Meet the Press

Reporters yesterday afternoon were given a sneak preview of today’s Power Forum, during which some of the industry’s heavy hitters will address issues raised from findings from Catalog Age’s Benchmark Reports and the Direct Marketing Association’s State of the Industry report. The forum is the first joint session of the DMA and Catalog Age, which are the cosponsors of the Annual Catalog Conference.

The panelists will be Newport News president/CEO George Ittner, Fingerhut president/chief marketing officer Michael Sherman, Black Box Corp. president/CEO Fred Young, Brylane executive vice president Jules Silbert, and Altura International/ CatalogCity.com president/CEO Lee Lorenzen. All of the panelists except for Young addressed the group yesterday.

Silbert highlighted some of the issues he would address at the forum, including growth opportunities through expanding product lines and the Web. But he intends to address a number of challenges as well.

“We’ve been hit hard by the recession environment,” Silbert said. “Consumers aren’t buying as much, and rising postal costs…are leaving us with a feeling of helplessness.”

Lorenzen will address the impact of the Internet, or catalog business. “The Internet is not an entire busness-it is a channel,” he told the press yesterday. Meanwhile, Sherman will address the importance of catalogers’ strategic plans, which he said are focused on the “strategic merger of new marketing and old marketing to better serve the customer.”

For his part, Ittner highlighted some of the points he plans to make about customer relationship management. “There will be less emphasis in the future on acquisition and more focus on retention,” he predicted.

Ittner also touched upon the success of private-label credit cards. “Catalog companies in general will turn to private-label credit because the value of a customer who uses them is much higher” than that of a customer who uses another method of payment.

The Power Forum, which will be held today from 3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in room 304, will be moderated by Catalog Age editorial director Sherry Chiger and, presenting for the DMA, W.A. Dean and Associates president Bill Dean.

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