Live from Lands’ End pushes and pulls

New York—Remember the Pushmi-Pullyu from “Dr. Dolittle”? Lands’ End marketing program manager Brian Kubiak seems to. At a May 8 session during the Conference here, Kubiak discussed the balance of pushing and pulling that has contributed to the cataloger’s multichannel success.

“Catalog mailings are definitely push marketing,” Kubiak said, “while Internet is pull. Now with e-mail, we’re pushing again, but customers don’t have to look at them unless they want to, so it’s something of a middle ground between catalog and Internet. It’s sort of like a return to traditional retailing, in which a store clerk [the e-mail] is there to say, ‘Can I help you?’ and the customer can either say, ‘No, thanks, just looking’ or accept the clerk’s help.”

Lands’ End sends out weekly e-mails to roughly 500,000 customers. These often contain not only news of catalog specials but also “crazy” stories about cows in Wisconsin and the like, Kubiak said: “Our theory is to send people crazy stuff to keep them interested, tell them only about what they’re going to get, and don’t overpromise.”

The apparel and home goods cataloger also sends customers e-mails on request offering personal shopping advice, replete with personal recommendations—again inviting comparisons to a store clerk.

The e-mail program is clearly working. Kubiak said that Lands’ End’s online sales have grown at a steady 40% clip so far this year. was sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association and the Association for Interactive Marketing.