Backword

Jun 01, 1998 9:30 PM  By

In putting together our Cataloging 2001 theme issue, we hit up many catalogers, consultants, suppliers, and other industry experts for their professional opinions on where cataloging is headed in the next few years.

That’s not to say that as trade journalists, we don’t have a few ideas of our own as to the near future of the catalog business. Below, our inhouse prognostications for 2001:

Sherry Chiger, managing editor Having used my dog’s name to request a number of catalogs, I predict that by 2001, she’ll be receiving more mail than my husband will.

Melissa Dowling, features editor There’s going to be a tremendous home products backlash, causing consumers to heave all their high-ticket linens and fancy furnishings into landfills in favor of plain straw mats and folding chairs. Angels and candles will endure, however.

Paul Miller, senior news writer Profits will remain the name of the game over the next three years. In particular, all the big catalog conglomerates will continue to push the profit envelope over the next several years. With the economic outlook remaining so strong, I see no reason these catalogers can’t continue to make money come 2001. Other big mailers should benefit as well. Even Spiegel should begin to turn around by then!

Shannon Oberndorf, writer/Website coordinator I predict that on Jan. 1, 2001, I’ll be sitting on my couch, and thanks to my Internet-accessible television with high-speed bandwidth, I’ll be simultaneously watching my favorite soap opera, participating in a business video conference, and ordering my spring wardrobe from online catalogs. What’s more, I’ll get my new clothes before the day is through-without any extra cost in expedited delivery.

Mark Del Franco, writer After leaving office in disgrace, former pres-ident Bill Clinton “secretly” will start a direct marketing consulting business specializing in “privacy issues”; his company’s ad in a 2001 edition of Catalog Age will read “Specializing in document shredding, obstruction of justice, and general obfuscation.” In a related story, Clinton will be pardoned by President Fred Thompson.

Yvonne Moran, writer In 2001, all men will be house-husbands, buying from mail order catalogs in greater numbers than women are currently. They will be purchasing all-kinds-of-everything, both for themselves and their working-till-midnight Significant Others.

Sophia Burke, editorial assistant Though Internet catalogs will not replace print, we will no longer have a need to save and file all the print catalogs we get at Catalog Age, because they will all be available online. As the current filer of the catalogs, I am desperately looking forward to this turn of events.

Peter Girard, special projects manager I asked my 95-year-old grandfather, who has seen more trends, fads, and advancements than I (or most other people), to ponder merchandising trends that will affect the catalog industry as the next millennium nears. He made three predictions:

1. Computers. Mark his words: Computers will be big in the 21st century.

2. Red in, blue out. He says that as evidence of the universe’s perpetual expansion mounts, the astronomic principle of redshift (where objects moving away from Earth appear red, while those moving toward Earth appear blue) will color most visible heavenly bodies red. As a result, consumer tastes will gravitate toward all things red and away from blue-something catalog merchandisers must be ready for.

3. No cardigans. My grandfather remembers sudden blizzards that piled snow past the first floor of his house, and for this reason he has always stockpiled cardigans, which can be buttoned up for warmth at the first sign of a sudden blizzard. But as the global climate warms, he believes the need for cardigans has diminished to the point of absurdity. He fears that the button-down sweater will disappear from catalog pages by 2001.