Weigh Your Paper Options
Many industry experts believe that creative directors should be more wary of placing images with high ink coverage on backing pages when show-through becomes an issue. Downey tells the story of a catalog that featured a bright white cloud on its cover, only to have the headline from the backing page show through it.
Giesmann recommends working closely with separators and printers to maintain a good level of ink saturation without the images getting muddy. She described what Plow & Hearth did to keep quality stable when the catalog went to a lower basis weight for the holiday season:
“We were harder on our separators in terms of color accuracy for shadows and highlights. We actually ended up putting more ink down so that the difference was less noticeable.”
What About Response?
How your response rate is affected by a reduction in paper weight may be a function of your brand.
If quality is the most important aspect of your brand, a perceived lack of quality could lead to a drop in rates. But there’s only one way to know for sure, says Downey: You have to test.
She notes that properly testing any paper change is absolutely vital. “A single test is just not effective. Opinions change slowly, customers can forgive [a lighter catalog] once, but several lighter catalogs can hurt response rates.”
A test her company did with one big-name cataloger revealed a drop in response rates that, while slight, was significant enough to more than wipe out the savings resulting from the paper change.
Downey says that many catalogers are changing weights without testing at all. They later end up swinging to the opposite direction, because they see that response rates have been gradually slipping to the point where the lighter paper was costing them too many sales.