Catalog Success and Marketing INFORMATION Network® present the Top 200 Catalogs: The Greatest Housefile-Growth Rates Among Catalogers
The charts reflect our second-annual ranking of the top 200 North America-based catalogs as measured by recent housefile-growth rates.
You’ll notice that catalogers selling apparel/shoes, home furnishings and food fared particularly well. But other consumer categories also had strong showings, most notably athletic and sporting goods and apparel (14 catalogs in the Top 200), children’s products (14) and gardening-related items (13). Moreover, 16 business-to-business catalogs made the list.
Comparing and ranking catalogs based only on raw numbers is never a fool-proof methodology. For example, some catalogers may have cut their circulation rates to reduce mailing expenses during the recent economic downturn. And reduced circulation may have contributed to lower housefile-growth rates.
Additionally, the Top 200 list contains only those catalogs that have rented their housefiles during the last year, and (with rare exceptions as noted) those that include on both their current and previous datacards 12-month housefile numbers.
It’s important to point out that the list does not account for seasonality. Our data partner, Marketing Information Network (mIn), independently verifies the list-rental data on which the Top 200 list is based. Because mIn verifies these data on a rotating basis throughout the year, the dates (noted in the “Updated” columns in the following charts) vary from catalog to catalog.
#1 Kenneth Cole New York
This publicly traded, New York-based merchant designs, sources and markets footwear, handbags and accessories under the brand names Kenneth Cole New York, Reaction Kenneth Cole, Unlisted, Kenneth Cole Productions and Bongo, according to press reports.
It also licenses men’s and women’s apparel, timepieces, eyewear and other product categories.
Merchandise is distributed through department stores, speciality stores and company-owned retail stores, as well as consumer catalogs and e-commerce. Its product line is meant to appeal mainly to urban-based affluent shoppers 25 to 40 years old.
Kenneth Cole has served as chairman of the board and CEO since the company was founded in 1982. Paul Blum was named president in 2002.
#34 Jessica’s Biscuit
This discount cookbook cataloger started out 23 years ago with an advertisement featuring just one item. Now the company carries thousands of cookbooks and is the largest mail order/Internet company nationwide in its industry.
Based in Newton, MA, Jessica’s Biscuit gained popularity among food enthusiasts with its significant savings offer: 20 percent to 75 percent off on all cookbook prices.
And the company recently expanded its product line to include coffee beans. Seems as though President David Strymish has the ingredients for success.
#46 Diamond Essence
This merchant specializes in cubic zirconia and other simulated gem jewelry set in 14-karat gold. About 70 percent of sales come from its Diamond Essence catalog, 10 percent from its retail store, and 20 percent from wholesale and other channels.
All design and custom-order production is done in the company’s Cedar Knolls, NJ, headquarters, while finished jewelry is sourced from Asian manufacturers.
President and Owner Ranjit Singh says the company recently beefed up its prospecting campaigns. Most notably, the company frequently places display ads in national newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times. “And we might do some TV ads this year, as well,” says Singh who holds a doctorate degree in metallurgy and material science from MIT. “We’re looking at TV proposals now.”
This b-to-b cataloger of promotional products came in at #90 on last year’s Top 200 list and moved up a few rungs this year.
James Simone, director of marketing, admits to a few tactics that may have spurred the company’s growth. “We increased our prospecting efforts to market to specific targets,” he says.
GoPromos also focused on Web developments such as gaining presence through search engines, keyword buys, online advertising and affiliate marketing. “We were able to attract many new customers through [these] efforts,” says Simone.
This Ohio-based catalog of home, automotive and gardening products was sold by Hanover Direct in 2001 to television home-shopping network HSN for a reported $34 million.
Bill Buchler, vice president of marketing for Improvements, says the sale has been good for the 12-year-old title. “We’re challenged by our parent company to have significant annual growth. That can be a double-edged sword, of course. They set the bar high, and that has prompted us to be strategically focused, which has worked to our benefit.”
Looking ahead to this year, Buchler says the company plans “to stay the course, be creative and seek new opportunities.” Translation: The company is looking to make acquisitions this year. Although Buchler wouldn’t reveal which specific catalogs they’re considering, he said the criteria includes operations that could prove synergistic to Improvements and its sister catalog, Home Focus.
#124 Musician’s Friend
This cataloger of musical gear, which has grown to be the largest direct response musical instrument retailer in the United States, boasted sales of $78.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2003, up 18.9 percent from the year before. In all, the company carries more than 36,000 products.
In addition to instruments, this 21-year-old company carries music-related equipment such as recording, mixing, lighting and disc jockey gear.
Michael Eisenberg, director of marketing for this Westlake Village, CA-based company, credits the company’s rapid housefile-growth rate to three strategies. “We developed our own prospecting program across the Internet, catalog and magazine ad programs, with an excellent rate of conversion to buyers,” he says.
Additionally, the company achieved a high level of repeat customer purchases, as well as continued product additions that spurred customer interest.