Postal Remedy: New, Lighter Papers
Ever since the U.S. Postal Service implemented the first of several blockbuster double-digit rate increases back in the late 1980s and early ’90s, many catalogers have been readying themselves for subsequent rate hikes with cost-cutting measures. The most prevalent one has been, and continues to be, a reduction in paper weight, as well as trim size.
Many mailers have trimmed about as much as they can over the years from their books’ dimensions. And with a 9 percent increase in Standard mail postage looming for next spring, which comes on the heels of another postage increase earlier this year, testing out lighter paper grades to lower their postage tabs has become an ongoing process for some catalogers.
St. Meinrad, Ind.-based religious gifts mailer Abbey Press about six months ago began experimenting with supercalendered paper for its Abbey Press, You and Yours and Collections catalogs, says CEO Gerald Wilhite. He tried several configurations previously, but decided that supercalendered paper worked best on the inner pages. For covers and outside wraps, Abbey used a stock that was heavier, whiter and double coated.
Of the tests, “We received the response we had hoped for in the catalogs with the contents portion on the supercalendered paper,” Wilhite says. Response was positive enough for Abbey Press to continue to use it for the inner portions of those same three catalogs this fall.
Among other mailers, Arlington Heights, Ill.-based gifts cataloger Design Toscano went from 36 lb to a 32 lb rotogravure stock about six years ago, says Erik Martinez, vice president of marketing.
“We’re always focused on postage, so early on we started looking at different ways we could do that by dropping our basis weight,” he says.
About two-and-a-half years ago, Design Toscano began testing new paper for its offset printed sale inserts. When the company tested a 32 lb, high bulk paper, it saved $10,000 and didn’t see a drop in response, Martinez says.