Lists and Prospecting: Renting Out Your Retail Names

If you think the names of your store buyers can’t bring in list rental revenue, think again. As Dennis Bissig, group vice president for Hackensack, NJ-based list firm Mokrynski & Associates, points out, cataloger/retailers such as Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers, Victoria’s Secret, and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers have at some time during the past few years rented the names of their retail customers.

But these and other retail lists are typically attractive to noncatalog marketers such as fund-raisers, credit-card marketers, and insurance firms, Bissig says. “These kinds of companies typically look for large quantities of names,” he explains. “And it’s less critical for these kinds of businesses to know whether they’re getting mail order buyers and how much they spend through the mail.”

To appeal to catalogers that want to rent only the names of mail order buyers, many list firms often offer a “direct mail generated” segment for the lists of multichannel companies. This helps to distinguish those prospects from retail buyers. And since multichannel buyers who have catalog buying history are still considered catalog buyers, list owners don’t charge any more than the basic rental fee for such buyers, Bissig says.

But some cataloger/retailers, such as outdoor apparel and sporting goods marketer Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), don’t bother segmenting names by source. The Renton, WA-based marketer has more than 2 million active members who shop via its 66 stores, catalog, and two Websites. REI rents its membership list (excluding those who’ve opted out), which includes members who’ve signed up at the stores, through the catalog, and online, but it “doesn’t make a distinction between those who sign up for membership in stores or our catalogs,” says spokesperson Mike Foley.

Orvis, another outdoor gear and apparel marketer, also does not offer its retail buyers as a separate list rental select. Why not? “I don’t think we’ve seen a market for it,” says vice president of marketing Joe Cassidy. The Manchester, VT-based cataloger/retailer operates 28 stores in the U.S., as well as 12 stores in the U.K.

If you’re a retailer, Bissig says, “you might have an interest in getting the retail segment from a competitor to see if you could drive more traffic to your stores.” But for the most part, he notes, “you want to drive customers to your catalog and Website.”

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