Postage, printing, presentation: There’s a lot to consider when choosing a paper type for your catalog. Catalog Success asked some leading catalogers how they decide which type of paper to use, and how they think it impacts their sales.
Michele Rick, director of customer acquisition, Crutchfield catalog
Product: Consumer electronics
Circulation: About 35 million catalogs mailed per year
Catalog Success: What type of paper are you using now?
Rick: We have two types of books. Our big book has a 144-page body with a four-page cover that prints on gravure. That uses a totally different paper than the supplements, which have a 48-page body and a four-page cover.
For the big book we use an 80-lb cover, #3, and we alternate between International Paper’s (IP’s) Influence and Stora Enso’s Orion. For the body, we use primarily a 30-lb gravure paper, IP’s Advocate, with some portions on Stora Enso’s Producto Roto, which is also a 30-lb, #5 gravure.
CS: Do you buy your own paper, or does your printer buy it for you?
Rick: I buy it from the paper merchants.
CS: Why do you use the 30-lb?
Rick: Our book is heavy, so we try to keep it as light as possible to not push the [U.S. Postal Service’s] per-piece-per-pound limit.
Second, it’s a really good paper that you can be proud of, but looks reasonable. It conveys quality without going overboard and emphasizing price.
But then we put on an 80-lb cover to give it some coffee-table appeal. That really nice cover on top is kind of the right balance. Because electronics are expensive, we don’t want people to think we have all this markup because of paper.
For the supplements we print on #5, 38-lb paper, IP’s Advocate. Because the book is smaller, we want to give it a little bit of heft. But also because [the catalog] has some sales and promotions in it, we don’t want too much heft to give it an inflated sense of cost.