Monday, 12 April 2010

March Catalogue Log

As predicted in last month’s Catalogue Log, the number of catalogues promoting discounts and sale prices on their covers fell, whilst the number offering free delivery rose. What we didn’t predict however, was that the number of catalogues offering free shipping would be the highest figure we’ve recorded since we first began compiling the log.

In March, we received a total of 141 catalogues. Of those, 31.9 percent offered a discount, compared with 38.2 percent in February. And although the increase in catalogues offering free delivery was up just 0.7 percent to 22 percent, it’s a record-breaking figure. Until now, the highest percentage of catalogues offering free delivery was 21.7 percent, a figure we noted in our October Catalogue Log at the height of the Christmas mailing season.

One reason for the increased popularity of free p&p last month is, we assume, to soften the blow of full-price, new-season goods. What’s more, of the 31 catalogues offering free delivery, 19, or 61.3 percent of them, offered it unconditionally to further coax shoppers to open their wallets. Overall, it was less surprising the at the most aggressively promotional catalogues were mailed by business-to-business merchants.

Stationery supplies marketer Viking sent us a 12-page A4 catalogue called Switch & Save. It promised that if we chose to switch from our current stationery supplier to Viking, we’d be making a saving by beating competitors’ prices. Considering we already have an account with Viking (amongst others), I am surprised this landed in our office. Another business catalogue making a similarly bold claim is promotional products cataloguer 4imprint, which says it is “100% behind our 100% satisfaction guarantee”. As part of that guarantee it is offering double the difference if customers find a lower price elsewhere. Further, if the order is not delivered on time, the entire order is free.

Just 14.9 percent of the catalogues we received in March promoted a free gift with purchase. This is down from 16.9 percent in February and 15.7 percent in March last year. RNLI was one of the consumer catalogues offering a gift. It was good to see the RNLI catalogue back after its hiatus. Last year RNLI didn’t print a spring edition following problems at its former fulfilment house, Capita Fulfilment Services. This year, see the charity’s trading arm returned with a new website and new fulfilment house, Prism DM.
Finally, a note on a back cover we liked. The spring summer edition of the Outdoor & Country catalogue features a very colourful and eye-catching front cover, but as we all know, a catalogue is just as likely to be read from back to front. The catalogue doesn’t shout about an offer or spotlight a bestselling product, instead it carries a rather gentle reminder: “Did you see the essential travel luggage pages…and the funky festival wellies?” The question teases each time you look at the back cover. And even if you had seen the wellies first time round, now you’re thinking, “they’re worth another look, surely…”--MT

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