Show Me the Numbers; Better Yet, I’ll Show You
Over the past few months, we at Catalog Success have been hard at work to further develop a hefty well of research data for our readers. In October we launched the Catalog Success Latest Trends Report, a quarterly series of original benchmarking research we’ve been conducting with the multichannel ad agency Ovation Marketing.
In the coming months, we’ll also be running a series of mail volume charts provided by several catalog co-op databases. Like the Latest Trends surveys, these will run in the IndustryEye section of our print magazine. And for the past year or so, we’ve been running a regular reader poll. It’s admittedly non-scientific, but it’s been giving us a good idea of what your businesses are like while gauging your opinions on just about every issue relevant to the catalog/multichannel business.
For the past few weeks, I’ve wanted to run a compendium of the results from all these poll questions, but couldn’t find the appropriate medium. It took up way too much space to fit in our print magazine, so I decided this newsletter would be the ideal place.
I’d love to hear from you with any reactions to any of these findings. Please submit a comment to not only share with fellow readers what you think of some of these results, but also exactly how you use benchmarking and other data, such as these polls.
Some catalogers use survey data when determining the size of upcoming mailings. Others use it in determining how to approach search marketing. Still others take such data into account when determining how to staff up for the holiday rush. Here are the results; take a good look, then let’s hear from you.
Beyond Mail Preference
Do you accept catalog opt-out requests from third-party groups, such as the recently formed Catalog Choice, or do you rely strictly on the DMA’s Mail Preference Service (MPS)?
(40%) MPS only
(40%) We’ll honor any requests that come to us
(20%) Just one or two non-DMA opt-out services
From which country or region do you source the majority of your products?
(44%) Far East
(22%) Another region
Catalog/Web Holiday Season Budgeting
How do your holiday 2007 season print and Web marketing budgets differ from holiday ’06?
(33%) Allocating more money on Web marketing, less on print catalog mailings
(11%) Allocating more on print, less on Web
(44%) Allocating more on all marketing channels
(0%) Allocating less on all marketing channels
(11%) No change from last year
What Others Do
Who do you pay closest attention to?
(53%) My closest competitors
(35%) Any and all multichannel marketers
(0%) Just the financials of the public companies
(12%) Nobody in particular
Have you ever run a free shipping & handling promotion?
(40%) Yes, and it worked great
(26%) Yes, but it worked out marginally at best
(14%) Yes, but it failed miserably
(14%) No, but would like to try it
(5%) No, and I have no desire to try it
There’s momentum building among states for “Do-Not-Mail” legislation, similar to the “Do-Not-Call” law. Following just four states last year, 15 states this year have introduced proposals for “Do-Not-Mail” legislation. How does that strike you?
(0%) I’ve contacted my congressman
(24%) I’ve been in touch with my trade associations
(12%) I’ll let others deal with it
(12%) I doubt anything will become of it
(53%) I wasn’t aware of it
The year is two-thirds over. How are your sales this year compared to your original projections?
(6%) Well ahead
(29%) Slightly ahead
(24%) Right on plan
(41%) Slightly below
(0%) Missing our projections badly
Web Site Renovations
How long has it been since you performed a major overhaul on your Web site?
(64%) 0-2 years
(14%) 3-5 years
(14%) We’re long overdue
(7%) We’ve never needed to overhaul it
Silos? What Silos?
Do you have separate e-commerce and print catalog marketing divisions or are they both in the same department?
Since this past January, by how much have you been able to cut your overall cost of doing business in light of the May postage increase?
(9%) 21% or greater
(36%) Costs have gone up
Holiday Season Hiring
How will your holiday season (or other peak season) hiring compare to last year?
(25%) We intend to hire more part-timers in our fulfillment center
(0%) We’ll hire fewer part-timers
(75%) We’ll hire about the same
Have you joined, or are you planning to join, the recently formed American Catalog Mailers Association?
(63%) I don’t know what it is
Do you do any business with foreign customers?
(40%) Yes, we mail catalogs abroad and aggressively market to foreign customers
(10%) Yes, though Canada is as far as we go
(25%) Yes, but only when the orders trickle in on our Web site or our toll-free line
(10%) No, we don’t accept any orders from outside of North America
(15%) No, we don’t accept any orders from outside the U.S.
Postal Rate Increase
What changes have you made in your catalog make-up and plans so far to offset the May 14 postage increase?
(0) We switched to a lighter catalog paper weight
(17%) We reduced the trim-size of our catalog
(0) We found some co-mailing opportunities
(17%) We did all of the above
(67%) We’ve done nothing yet
How well capitalized is your catalog/multichannel company right now?
(67%) We have plenty of capital to run our daily operations
(22%) We’re just barely at breakeven and will likely need to get more capital soon
(11%) We’re undercapitalized and are seeking one or more investor
Your Conference Attendance
On an overall staff-wide basis, what are your company’s plans for attending this year’s catalog/multichannel-related conferences, compared to last year?
(20%) We’re sending more people to conferences
(70%) We’re sending fewer people to conferences
(10%) No change from last year
If the postal rate increase is enacted in May with the rates recommended by the Postal Regulatory Commission, how prepared is your company financially?
(5%) Very prepared
(71%) Working up an aggressive cost-cutting plan right now to make this work
(24%) Totally unprepared; we have no idea what we’ll do
By how much are you changing your budget for paid search this year compared to last year?
(75%) Increasing 1 percent to 10 percent
(0%) Increasing 11 percent or greater
(25%) Same as last year
(0%) Less than last year’s level
Holiday 2006 Order Curves
Compared to holiday 2005, did the majority of your holiday 2006 orders come in:
(36%) within the same time period
Holiday Gift Card Sales
Compared to holiday 2005, how many gift cards have you sold this holiday season?
(25%) About the same amount
(25%) We don’t offer gift cards
What is your sales projection for Holiday 2006 compared to last year?
(50%) up 0% - 10%
(13%) up 11% - 20%
(13%) up 21% or greater
Are you preparing for the 2007 postal rate increase?
With regard to holiday season promotions, this year will you run:
(46%) more than last year
(46%) the same
Holiday Catalog Circ
How, if at all, will your holiday season catalog circulation levels change?
(43%) mailing more catalogs than last year
(43%) the same
Private Label Offerings
Next year, the portion of private label products offered in your catalog and Web site (as a whole) will be...
(100%) about the same
How did your part-time fulfillment center staff change this holiday season, compared to holiday 2005?
(50%) We’ve employed more part-timers this year
(0) We’ve employed fewer part-timers this year
(50%) We’ve employed the same number of part-timers