School Kids 41 Million Strong & Growing
Shopping for these items direct may appeal to busy families. "We've noticed a defining trend in the parents-with-children market. It isn't Ozzie and Harriet anymore. The pressures working families face are enormous. They want and need convenience," says Greenberg.
In addition to buying convenience products, the way these families do their shopping also has changed. "Products that can be purchased by non-direct means are now being bought direct," he says, citing grocery delivery service Peapod and shopping on AOL.
Do Your List Homework
"Marketers have a lot of avenues to reach this market," says Allison O'Neil, director of consumer list sales, Lake Group Media. There are numerous list sources to turn to—from catalog and magazine buyers to large compiled files.
Start with the lists that have the highest affinity of buyers to your target audience, i.e., the same age, similar unit of sale, lists that are known to be prospecting a good deal themselves, asserts Brian DeLaite, vice president of list management, ALC of New York.
When looking at catalog lists in particular, DeLaite says age is the most important criteria. With a file like Lilly's Kids, he says, "Age is a predetermined factor based on the merchandise they sell." Disney catalog buyers, on the other hand, might be buying for kids or for themselves, he explains, as Disney sells adult apparel, art and collectibles, as well as kids' toys and clothes.
Another way to define age parameters is to suppress certain product categories. "Company Kids sells items for babies and children. Omit the crib and baby comforter buyers, and you've homed in on the school-age kids you want to reach," DeLaite notes.
O'Neil says, "More than half of the magazines and catalogs have a children's select or an age enhancement available, so take advantage of it."
When looking for lists to test, O'Neil says mailers should be aware that while there are plenty of lists, the market for mail-order names is limited. "There are few new catalogs and magazines, and so everyone is fighting for those same mail-order buyers," she explains. Just look at the variety of mailers mailing Zoobooks magazine's list, which Lake Group manages: They range from Pottery Barn Kids and One Step Ahead to Smithsonian magazine, National Geographic and the Phoenix Zoo.