Field Reports - December 20111 Dec, 2011 By: Jackie Jones Response
Time Life Sets Sail With New Music-Related Business Lines
In its October 2011 issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the Third Annual Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. In this issue, we continue highlighting the other top nominees in a monthly section. This month, we caught up with Pat Boos, senior vice president of Fairfax, Va.-based Time Life.
In it’s 35th year in business, Time Life continues to expand its reach, while maintaining its focus on music CD compilations. Its most successful CD products in the past year included: Teen Years, Singers & Songwriters, Golden Age of Country, Easy 80s, Soul Train, Pop Memories of the 70s, and the Motown Collection. While maintaining dominance in the entertainment DR category, Time Life also created new lines of business, including its new “music-themed cruise” business.
Q: What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top 11 nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?
A: Recognition of success by one’s peers is always flattering and brings visibility to the great work that all the people at Time Life put into our programs: our media buyers are outstanding; our producers are passionate; our customer service is top notch. To do well is to have excellent talent across the board — from the warehouse to the Web team. Our marketing team is disciplined, creative and coached to “always try to beat the control,” but it takes the entire employee base to be successful. Recognition for our efforts by those who appreciate what it takes to be successful is highly valued.
Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?
A: Our ability to innovate has kept us as key players in the rapidly changing direct response industry. Complete 360-degree integration of company-wide marketing plans has allowed us to enter new markets and launch new strategic directions for our business. We have a new future ahead of us because we, as a culture, are able to recognize changes in the market and adapt quickly to the market.
Q: How did the successful products you had over the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changed the way you do business? If so, how?
A: We took our traditional CD-compilation concept and merged it with the fast growing “theme cruise” market to launch a live music cruise business. We started with the “Malt Shop Memories” cruise, based on one of our most successful music concepts, and we have created an entirely new category for us called “entertainment live.” It includes themed cruises (the second “Malt Shop Memories” cruise sailed in October and we have plans for many more themes starting in 2012) as well as live concerts. It combines the talent pools across all our businesses to create a new market.
Q: Why do you think your business responded well during the recent economic downturn?
A: Time Life recreates nostalgia — our products bring back memories of “happier times.” Music has always been the catalyst for memories, and we are so proud to be able to bring those memories back to our customers through our products — more important than ever in these tough economic times. Our products are high quality and our brand has stood the test of time. Consumers trust Time Life to provide value and service.
Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?
A: There is no overlooking that the economy is making all our businesses push the envelope. We have to be even better at creating products and offers that consumers are interested in. We are doing that by adding more value and hard-to-find content to our offerings. Health and fitness will continue to dominate as popular themes. We expect there to be increased focus on the home and home values.
Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2012? Why?
A: It’s easy to say that the Web and social media will continue to increase in its importance and role in marketing. But it’s also vital to remember the core business principles are still in play — product, price and positioning are all key components to success. The ability to get the consumer’s attention is more critical than ever before since there is more out there to distract them. All the channels of distribution, whether TV, Web or retail, have to work together in concert rather than as individual silos.
Q: Does today’s consumer respond better to short-form or long-form DRTV? Which of these two formats are best supported by other media, including online, mobile, print and radio?
A: Consumers are responding to all channels if the product is strong. And all channels need to work in concert with each other — they can no longer stand alone. A short-form spot works for lower-ticket items, and needs the Web and retail to support the promotion. A long-form spot works for higher-ticket/more complicated items, and also needs the Web to support it. A 360-degree approach to marketing is more important than ever, and will continue to dominate as a necessary strategy over the coming years.
Industry Debates Marketplace Fairness Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some of the biggest names in the industry — from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) to Amazon to eBay — are chiming in on the proposed “Marketplace Fairness Act” bill, which would restore each state’s right to enforce state and local sales and use tax laws, as well as exempt online retailers with less than $500,000 in annual revenue from collecting and remitting sales or use tax.
The DMA and eBay have publicly denounced the bill, which was introduced Nov. 9 by Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and seven others, while Amazon has voiced its support of the proposed legislation.
“The bill, even in the best of economic times, is bad policy as it interferes with the free flow of commerce among the states, a principle upon which the United States was founded,” the DMA said. “In these difficult economic circumstances, placing new, unfunded mandates on out-of-state companies to comply with complex and changing tax structures in many states around the country will hamper E-commerce, a fast growing segment in our economy.”
The senators involved in the bill’s proposal said it would streamline the country’s diverse sales tax jurisdictions and provide two options by which states could begin collecting sales tax from online and catalog purchases. The legislation would give states the option to collect the sales taxes they are owed under current law from out-of-state businesses, rather than rely on consumers to pay those taxes to the states, according to an official statement from the senators.
“For over a decade, Congress has been debating how to best allow states to collect sales tax from online retailers in a way that puts Main Street businesses on a level playing field with online retailers,” Enzi said. “This bill empowers states to make the decision themselves. If they choose to collect already existing sales taxes on all purchases, regardless of whether the sale was online or in store, they can. If they want to keep things the way they are, it’s a state’s choice.”
Both Amazon.com and the National Retail Federation (NRF) welcomed the bill’s introduction, according to a DM News report.
“(Amazon) strongly supports the measure, (which) will allow states to obtain additional revenue without new taxes or federal spending (and) make it easy for consumers and small retailers to comply with state sales tax law,” an Amazon statement read.
“Over the last 20 years, the retail industry has changed dramatically, but unfortunately our antiquated regime for sales tax collection has not kept up,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay added. “A modern approach to this issue would provide states with additional revenue in order to protect jobs that are badly needed to support American families and keep our communities economically healthy.”
Some small businesses have also joined the ranks of supporters, including FedTax and its more than 1,000 TaxCloud merchants.
“The Marketplace Fairness Act will finally bring sales tax law up to date with E-commerce,” said David Campbell, CEO and co-founder of FedTax. “It grants almost immediate collection authority to the majority of sales tax-collecting states while providing clear and easy to follow guidelines for the remaining states to simplify their sales tax laws.”
However, the bill falls short of actually protecting smaller retailers, eBay maintains.
“This is another Internet sales tax bill that fails to protect small business retailers using the Internet and will unbalance the playing field between giant retailers and small business competitors,” said Tod Cohen, vice president of government relations and deputy general counsel at eBay.
A copy of the bill can be found here: http://enzi.senate.gov/uploads/marketplacebill.pdf
Online, Mobile Drive Strong Black Friday Sales
ARMONK, N.Y. — Shoppers in the U.S. took advantage of early sales during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, driving a 39.3-percent increase in online Thanksgiving Day spending and a 24.3-percent online growth on Black Friday when compared to the same time period last year, according to data from IBM’s Smarter Commerce.
By midday Thanksgiving, online sales were 20 percent higher than results from the year before, IBM’s Coremetrics found.
“This year marked Thanksgiving’s emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM Smarter Commerce. “This momentum continued into Black Friday where the big winners were those retailers that delivered a smarter commerce experience with compelling, relevant deals that people could easily access from their channel of choice.”
Overall consumer trends reported this Black Friday shopping season include a general increase in spending, an increase in mobile sales led by Apple device users, a general uptick in retail purchases driven by the iPad specifically, and more shoppers discussing their purchases on social networks than ever before, IBM reported.
Mobile also played a significant role in consumers’ Black Friday spending, according to IBM. Mobile platforms were responsible for 14.3 percent of all online shopping traffic on Black Friday, more than double the 5.6 percent reported last year. Sales from mobile devices reached 9.8 percent of digital retail transactions, triple the 3.2 percent recorded last year, the study also found.
A separate comScore study predicts that domestic online retail spending will reach $37.6 billion for the entire 2011 holiday season, which runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. That number represents a 15-percent year-over-year gain, according to comScore reports.
TV Viewers Multitasking With Mobile
SEATTLE — Television viewers are exceptionally skilled when it comes to multitasking on their mobile devices, a new study by Razorfish and Yahoo suggested.
According to the joint survey, 80 percent of U.S. respondents say they regularly use their cell phones while watching TV, 70 percent say they use their phones while watching TV at least once a week and 49 percent say they use both devices simultaneously every day.
“At a minimum, multitasking adds another layer of complexity to the evolution of media measurement. At most, it’s a massive disrupter to television, the medium that receives the most ad spending,” Jeremy Lockhorn, vice president of emerging media, wrote in the Razorfish Outlook Report. “Add mobile and tablet multitasking to the mix and marketers everywhere wrestle with measuring the latest evolution in consumer TV viewing behavior.”
Multitasking consumers are using mobile first and foremost to communicate while watching television, the report said. While 94 percent are using their phones to text, E-mail, talk or use social-networking messaging, 60 percent are using Internet to research content, with 38 percent of those searches being related to the content on the television, and 44 percent unrelated.
Of particular positive note to marketers, 36 percent of respondents said they are using their mobile devices to look up information on the TV spots they just watched. Those with tablets though use those devices to research related content 57 percent of the time. Marketers looking to capitalize on these interactions must evolve their TV content strategies, Razorfish suggested.
“Content and experiences must seamlessly from one screen to another are an absolute must. This is bigger than simply having a mobile- or tablet-optimized Web site. It means a cohesive communications strategy where the spots and the experience on mobile devices work together and build toward a greater whole,” Lockhorn said. “It means a mobile-optimized site that knows what’s happening in the TV spots, and perhaps even what’s happening in the current program — especially if it’s live. At a bare minimum, it’s time to consider what kind of mobile call to action may be appropriate in the brand’s TV spot.”
> buySAFE Inc. announces an enhancement to its 3-in-1 buySAFE Guaranteed Program, which provides $10,000 identity theft protection; a $1,000 purchase guarantee; and a $100 lowest price guarantee.
> KSL Media announces the promotion of numerous executives: Matt Greenfield becomes executive vice president, director of client sales; Bradley Mary and Katie O’Donnell become media planners; and Jeremy Davis and Jennifer Walt become media buyers.
> Allstar Products Group hires Trish Dowling as vice president of merchandising.
> Media Design Group announces the addition of Daryl Buttrick to its team of long-form media buyers.
> DMW Direct announces the hiring of Cyndi Syracuse as account director.
> REVShare hires three new salespeople to assist in the expansion of its targeted ad sales business: Stephen Hurd, Gregg Brinin and Logan Connolly.
> Acquirgy launches DRTVLab, a highly focused methodology of evaluating new products and services for their DRTV potential.
> Valpak Direct Marketing Systems partners with Savings.com to provide more than 20,000 online coupons from national brands and retailers on Valpak.com.
> The Network Advertising Initiative, a group promoting self-regulation in online advertising, announces that Marc Groman, the chief privacy officer for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), will be the organization’s next executive director and general counsel.