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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports

1 Feb, 2008 By: Thomas Haire, Courtney Beth Pugatch Response

Holiday Sales Take A Dive

By Jacqueline Renfrow (

NEW YORK — For most retailers, the 2007 holiday season left plenty to be desired. As reported on, businesses recorded a decline in the number of holiday sales due to heavy promotions, cutbacks in consumer spending and six fewer selling days than the previous season.

"Holiday sales were listless outside of a stellar Black Friday and the final weekend heading into Christmas," writes Ken Perkins, a research analyst with Retail Metrics.

Department stores and specialty stores were hit the hardest. The Gap Inc. reported a 6-percent drop in stores open at least one year, along with a 6-percent decrease in net sales. Nordstrom took a little less of a beating — a 3.8-percent decline in total sales.

It was luxury stores, such as Neiman Marcus, and discount chains, like Costco and Wal-Mart, that managed single-digit gains. Neiman Marcus saw a 2.9-percent increase, mostly in the shoes and designer handbags departments. Wal-Mart sales rose 2.6 percent in the five weeks ending Jan. 4, while Sam's Club sales rose by 1.3 percent.

Some experts say that it is too early to make a final call on sales, since not all gift cards have been redeemed yet.

But it is not just a holiday season slump. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), with a slowing economy and impending inflation, retail sales are expected to experience a slow growth in 2008, rising only 3.5 percent from the past year — the slowest growth since 2002.

NRF's forecast comes with a lack of consumer confidence in spending. "All these pressures give consumers concern about the economy and they are being more cautious about their spending," says Rosalind Wells, chief economist at NRF.

Cox Rolls Out Mobile Marketing

By Jacqueline Renfrow (

TEANECK, N.J. — Ping Mobile announced a partnership with cable TV leader Cox Media that will offer unique advertising opportunities that encourage consumers to text in messages. Cox's advertisers can now put a tag in their television spots that asks consumers to text in messages to receive special offers.

"With this partnership, we are able to provide our clients with a turnkey mobile solution that enhances their campaigns and drives an astonishing amount of sales and traffic," says Peter Schultz, Cox's director of new media. "The flexibility of Ping's mobile marketing platform allows us to provide every client in all of our markets with a unique and customized solution that suits their individual needs."

The initiative stems from trials in 2007 when Cox experimented on its cable systems in northern Virginia, San Diego, New England and Las Vegas markets. For example, Vocelli Pizza in Fredericksburg, Va., developed a TV spot with an embedded overlay message for viewers to text in "Vocelli" and in return, received a mobile coupon for 50 percent off a regular or large pizza. In the first month of the campaign, Vocelli saw a 0.5-percent response rate and a 56-percent coupon redemption rate.

According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending will grow from about $1.6 billion this year to $4.8 billion in 2011.

"We are looking full circle at what advertising can do," says Peter Schultz, director of advanced advertising at Cox. "You have a 30-second spot, you layer with other technology like VOD and long-form ads, and interactive overlays and request for information, but there is still no force driving them to the final sale." He's hoping that mobile marketing can close that loop.

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