European List Experience List Strategies That Worked for Three
Carol Wright Gifts
Carol Wright Gifts, a general merchandise cataloger, first tested the U.K. market in 1994. Finding consumer lists proved difficult, so it began to build its own file with a mixture of space ads. As the U.K. list market grew, it began using local consumer response lists almost exclusively.
In early 1998, the cataloger launched a 1.1 million piece mailing in Germany. It scheduled a follow-up mailing of 3 million pieces, but the plans were nixed when the cataloger was acquired by Genesis Direct and international operations subsequently shut down.
Carol Wright had been testing consumer response lists matching the demographic profile of its U.S. customers in both the United Kingdom and Germany as well as a few compiled lists. "Almost without exception it a took a catalog buyer file to make it work," says Erik Hook, former director of international marketing for Carol Wright Gifts.
The percentage of mail pieces in each campaign sent to outside lists varied by season. Summer wasn't profitable for prospecting, so only a small percent of the mailing was sent to outside lists. Prospecting was better in the fall when half of the campaign went to outside lists.
U.K. housefile names were split into two subfiles: names generated via space advertising and catalog buyers. The space-generated names, according to Hook, had a limited lifetime and only converted profitably for six months, after which it would have to dig deeper into the file with selects to make the names work. However, Hook adds, these names were a good way to get the business started. He notes that the company was able to mail catalog buyers deeply.
Response rates in the two countries were similar in that response was "radically different between prospect lists, in either a test or rollout, and the housefile," says Hook. Response to prospect lists was about 2 percent in both countries. U.K. housefile names typically pulled a response rate of 5 percent, with some segments pulling slightly better or worse. In Germany, the housefile pulled up to 10 percent.