As a catalog marketer, you’re constantly battling to bring every penny to the bottom line. The winds of change have been blowing strong in the industry. Changes in postage and a strong resurgence in pressure from environmental groups ultimately will hurt profits. Be not afraid; at least one of the clouds on the horizon has a silver lining.
I’d be hard pressed to say that any changes in the postal rates could be turned into a positive. But I can make a case that embracing recycled paper (or its environmentally friendly alternatives) can enhance your business in spite of the perceived cost premiums.
First, it’s important to note the recent changes in paper supply policy made by Limited Brands (Victoria’s Secret catalog) and Williams-Sonoma (Pottery Barn, Hold Everything! catalogs). Limited Brands, which mails up to 1 million books a day, became the target of a well organized environmental group called Forest Ethics—an organization you should familiarize yourself with. Forest Ethics’ campaign against Limited Brands, which it called “Victoria’s Dirty Secret,” eventually forced the cataloger to overhaul its entire paper procurement policy and add additional environmentally friendly product to its books.
Limited’s Big Shift
Since, Limited Brands has partnered with its paper supplier to eliminate all pulp supplied from the Boreal Forest (Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Foothills) and British Columbia (Inland Temperate Rainforest). It also has shifted its catalogs to either 10 percent post consumer waste or at least 10 percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) content during 2007.
As part of the deal, Limited Brands committed $1 million to research and advocacy to protect endangered forests and to ensure leadership in the catalog industry in the area of recycled paper use.
Todd Polia, executive director of Forest Ethics, stated recently that the new strategy of the organization to effect change in the industry “works through the market system to turn Fortune 500 companies into environmental advocates.” In fact, the next companies that Forest Ethics plans to “partner” with include J. Crew, L.L.Bean, Sears Holdings (which owns the Lands’ End catalog) and other catalogers.