In late January I wrote a post entitled “SkyMall Files For Bankruptcy — What Took So Long?”
I think the title more or less speaks for itself in terms of what happened and how I feel about it. SkyMall sells totally ridiculous stuff which most people like poking fun at but aren’t actually going to buy.
Beyond that, technology was probably the death blow to SkyMall. Previously SkyMall had a captive audience from the time the cabin door closed to the time electronic devices could be used, and then from the time electronic devices had to be turned off to the time the plane landed. Now that electronic devices can be used at all stages of flight, they have a much less captive audience.
But it looks like SkyMall isn’t completely dead. No, you probably won’t ever see another SkyMall magazine in your seatback pocket, but you probably will be able to buy a ridiculous garden gnome through their website.
The Atlantic ran an interesting article this week about the future of SkyMall:
The salvation came courtesy, in this case, of C&A Marketing, a New Jersey-based distributor and retailer that specializes in brand revamps. (The firm recently became the authorized licensee for Polaroid’s instant digital imaging products; it also purchased Ritz Camera & Image out of bankruptcy.) C&A bought SkyMall at auction, for $1.9 million and with notably little fanfare, in April. Its plan for its latest acquisition is bold, but simple: to take the American public’s latent love of SkyMall and convert it, through an alchemy worthy of the NitroBrew beer converter, into profits. “There’s a lot to do with a well-recognized brand that has a certain DNA, a certain expectation and a certain promise,” C&A’s executive vice president, Chaim Pikarski, told NJ Biz. “It’s just that the delivery and the catalogues were a little stale and outdated, both in terms of people having other forms of entertainment and the changing of the times.”
It sounds like they’re on the right path here. Is there a huge market for foot tanners and King-Tut cabinets? Probably not. But if the cost structure is right, it could still be a profitable business.
There’s no denying that SkyMall has lots of name recognition and even pop culture relevance, so it would be stupid to throw away their brand equity. At the same time it will be interesting to see if SkyMall will gain traction outside the seatback pocket.
What do you make of this change in strategy for SkyMall?