Tuesday, 8 June 2010

May Catalogue Log

Having recently finished putting together the Multichannel Year Book commemorating the winners of the ECMOD Awards for business excellence in 2009, I noticed many trends among the winners. Most notably, those that were most successful had learned to do more with less. Amongst other tactics, it meant reducing circulation, frequency, or pagination of their catalogues and experimenting with different formats. This maxim has continued through to 2010; last month’s Catalogue Log recorded half the volume of catalogues compared with May 2009.

There could be a number of reasons to explain why we’ve received fewer catalogues last month compared with a year ago. It could be that cataloguers are simply mailing less this year, or that we’re not bringing as many copies into the office from home compared with last year. Or it could be that mailers see us as tyre-kickers, and are mailing smarter, choosing to omit our prospect names from their files.

This theory could also explain why most of the catalogues we received (61 percent) carried some sort of promotion on the cover: They were pulling out all the stops in order to get us to spend. The most popular offer was a sale or discount (32.5 percent) as used by Cath Kidston, which inserted its full catalogue into Easy Living’s May issue carrying a 15 percent discount for the magazine’s readers.

Sales and discounts were also highly prominent last May—42.6 percent of catalogues featured some sort of price-related promotion on their covers this time last year—but it’s come as quite a surprise that in 2010 free delivery and free gifts were more than twice as popular. This year, 24.1 percent of catalogues promoted free delivery on their covers compared with a mere 11 percent last year. Whilst a number of cataloguers, including apparel merchant Lands’ End and discount-fashion catalogue M and M Direct, set a threshold requiring customers to spend more than a certain amount on their order, less fussy was water gardening cataloguer PondKeeper, which offered all customers free next-day delivery.

Plus-size apparel retailer Evans sent us two catalogues in May. The catalogues had the same cover image but carried two different offers. One promoted free delivery on orders of £40 or more, the other gave us 20 percent off our next order. The free delivery offer was sent to an existing customer whilst the discount was aimed at the prospect.

May 2010 saw a record number of catalogues offering a free gift (20.5 percent). The highest percentage up until now was recorded in June 2009, when 17.8 of catalogue covers promised a free gift. In May 2009, the figure was just 11 percent. Freebies promoted in consumer catalogues ranged from a raincoat and reversible fleece gilet from Daxon, to a free LED reading lamp for Daily Mail readers from Clifford James.--MT

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