Weigh Your Paper Options
While catalogs are worth more than the paper they’re printed on, there remains a continuous drive among catalogers, especially in this day of rising postal rates, to decrease paper costs.
Indeed, reducing the basis weight is an easy way to shave hundreds of thousands of dollars off a catalog’s bottom line, says Jean O. Giesmann, vice president of creative services at Plow & Hearth.
But as with any change in the look and feel of your catalog, changing paper is not something to be undertaken lightly. Following are some of the factors and their possible consequences to consider.
Two independent variables can shift rapidly to make you consider a basis weight reduction or a change in paper quality: postal costs and paper prices.
As the U.S. Postal Service sinks into an ever-deepening financial morass, rate hikes according to weight may occur again. With each increase and the accompanying blow to your profits, you may be tempted to reduce your book’s weight. Of course, one way to accomplish this is by lowering the paper’s basis weight.
The other uncontrolled variable that affects catalogs, and all print products for that matter, is the cost of paper. While paper costs aren’t rising as rapidly as they did in the 1990s, a sudden fluctuation can spell death for a catalog operating on narrow margins.
Another reason to have a low basis weight involves your catalog’s marketing strategy. Tim McAdow, product marketing manager for catalogs at Banta, a printer, believes catalogs that highlight their low prices can hurt themselves if they appear to be too flush with capital.
“If you’re selling discounted merchandise, you don’t want to have a catalog that has a large perceived value. After all, there are no marble entrances when you walk into a Kmart. You don’t want people to say, ‘Hmm, am I paying too much?’”