How to Determine Appropriate Page Counts
Use square-inch analysis to know which items to retain, drop or add to the catalog. In a properly merchandised catalog, about one-third of the items will be winners, another one-third will sell close to your square-inch break-even criteria, and the remainder will need to be replaced with new products. So aside from the decision to add pages, about 30 percent of the products in a typical hard goods catalog (e.g., gifts) should be replaced each print cycle.
Back to the question about knowing when to add pages and how many pages to add. A good criterion to use is as follows: If less than 30 percent of your catalog pages lose money, consider adding more pages (in eight-page increments as we mentioned). Add eight pages, then do your square-inch analysis, and determine if you should add another eight pages next time.
Keep in mind that if more than 30 percent of the pages lose money, you might want to reduce the page count by eight pages. It's a matter of proper balance. Be careful that you don't have too many under-performing items as a percentage of the total number of unique products in the catalog.
Pay particular attention to products that are being carried over to appear in the next book. Knowing when to drop a particular item is crucial. Products that are repeated in a catalog will tend to have a revenue drop-off of about 20 percent each time. If the decrease is more, replace the items.
The Economics of Adding Pages
Additional pages (that is, good quality merchandise) often will increase your response rate and the revenue per catalog mailed. Overall, the economics of adding pages and merchandise to your catalog can help grow your catalog business.
In the chart "Catalog Costs," I've started with 48 pages as a base catalog for comparison. I've gone up from there in eight-page increments.