Impact Your 2018 By Looking Back

Impact Your 2018 By Looking Back

Randy Ross

At the beginning of every new year, we are inundated with bestsellers and critic’s lists reflecting on the previous year. Rather than add another list of our group’s bestsellers, we thought we’d offer some insights gleaned from our Top 100 Bestsellers of 2017. Here are seven takeaways that could impact your 2018.

  1. Christian consumers are buying for others.
    Studies have shown that a large portion of the products sold in Christian stores are going to be given to a friend or family member. The sheer number of greeting cards sold through our Parable partner retailers fully supports this statistic. Knowing what a title is about is only half the information your customers need. Help them understand who a title is for, as well.
  2. 2. Church gatekeepers are shopping Christian retail.
    It’s easy to dismiss the Christian consumer as a casual person in the pew, but the number of professional and lay leaders who visit Christian retail stores cannot be overlooked. The amount of church supplies, Sunday School curriculum, VBS material, and lesson commentaries that populated our Top 100 Bestsellers in 2017 shows a consumer base engaged with the local church. The purchase of communion cups and VBS kits is the opening to a huge doorway of possibilities. Too often, we settle for the sale when there is a relationship awaiting.
  3. Major author brands and product extensions dominate the bestselling books.
    Sure, we expected to see a lot of Sarah Young on the list, but other brands have similar impact on the list of bestsellers, with repeated SKUs from the likes of Max Lucado, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Chris Tomlin and more. Overlooking the familiar may be understandable, but these are the authors that build the foundation for the rest of your offerings. Keep them visible in your store.
  4. Backlist is foundational to the product mix.
    In the Top 100 Bestsellers of 2017, approximately one third of the titles were released in 2017, with backlist dominating nearly three-to-one. Keeping on top of tried-and-true backlist is foundational to your bottom line! Make sure you have ample budget to support the key new titles as well as the key backlist titles.
  5. Consumers are responding to felt-needs that address the times.
    Whether it was a book that addressed a felt-need, or a Christian perspective on a popular topic, consumers gravitated towards books with an eye on culture in 2017. Respond to TV appearances and current events by repositioning titles in your store. Doing so may require you to look beyond the “Christian bubble” and anticipate felt-needs and popularity.
  6. In an age of streaming and downloading, physical media still matters.
    20% of our Top 50 Bestsellers in 2017 were on disc (CD or DVD). Perhaps your music and movie selection has been scaled back too much? Sure, CD and DVD sales have dipped over the last decade; but they have not vanished as quickly as the shelf space has.
  7. Legacy drives Christian consumers.
    The vast number and variety of children’s products on the Top 100 Bestsellers list illustrates a consumer desire to pass the faith along to future generations. Invest in your future consumers! It’s important to hook new parents with the life-changing content offered in your selection. New kids are born every day, giving you an opportunity to shape the life of a child each day as well.

Many other observations could be gleaned from last year’s bestsellers, but these are the ones that we found most important and actionable. We are dedicated to driving consumers to your store to discover content that will help them grow in their relationship with Christ—and are delighted to serve you as we keep these life-changing materials in front of your customers.

Randy Ross - The Parable Group