Riding the Paper Tiger
While deterrents to mailing catalogs continue to mount (rising postage and paper costs, threats of do-not-mail legislation, environmental backlash, the Web’s rising popularity, etc.), the benefits of this marketing medium seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle. So it’s fair to ask the question: Are catalogs worth it anymore?
We randomly surveyed a cross-section of multichannel merchants and found the following facts illustrating the catalog medium’s continued importance in most marketing budgets.
• Shiffler, a B-to-B cataloger of school and facility furniture, supplies and equipment, this year launched its second catalog title, Facility Hardware. More than 90 percent of its revenue comes from its catalogs.
• Specialty Catalog Corp., parent company of the Paula Young and Especially Yours wig catalogs, spends 90 percent of its marketing budget on its catalogs, according to Vice President of Marketing Joan Abrams.
• Mountain Gear, marketer of hiking and climbing gear, increased catalog circulation over the past two years and attributes nearly 85 percent of its sales to its catalog.
• Soft Surroundings, an apparel, bedding and beauty products cataloger targeted to women, is increasing its total number of catalog drops from four last year to eight this year, while increasing overall circulation.
• Office Depot, the multichannel retailer of office products and supplies continues to invest more money into its catalogs, says Dean Jackson, director of catalog and offline marketing. That’s because Jackson says customers acquired through catalogs have a higher average order value than their online counterparts.
More than just the established players say they’re investing in catalogs for the long haul. For instance, Richlund Ventures, parent company of home appliance marketer Compact Appliance, launched a catalog for that division about two years ago.
At first, the company was doubtful the catalog would pull a positive return on investment. But President Jason Roussos says its early mailings produced positive cash flow.