Monday, 11 April 2011

March Catalogue Log

At face value, March 2011 and March 2010 look almost identical in terms of catalogue volume. We received 140 catalogues last month, compared with 141 in March last year. There were familiar names too—we logged catalogues from Flowercard, Joe Browns, Kettlewell, and Tesco Direct in March 10 and March 11. But there were also names missing this year. For instance, we didn’t get a mailing from Bella di Notte, Cox & Cox, or Extremepie this March. Nevertheless, catalogues from Feather & Black, Garden Trading, and Shop Direct’s new isme title, brought March’s catalogue volume in line with last year. Evidently, marketers are being more careful with mailings and removing unprofitable names from their mailing files.

Catalogue Log Offers Chart

Digging a little deeper into our data, however, shows several differences. Although March 2011 was only marginally more promotional than last year—58.6 percent of catalogues featured some sort of offer on the cover, compared with 57.4 percent last year—we tracked a 29 percent increase in the number of catalogues promoting a sale or discount. Of the 140 catalogues we received in March, 41.4 percent, 58 catalogues, had a price-related offer on the cover. Among those offering knock-down prices were children’s furniture cataloguer Great Little Trading Co, apparel retailers Joules and Toast, and the new JD Williams brand Williams & Brown.

In March last year we noted a record number of catalogues offering free shipping—22 percent. That record has since been broken twice, and was almost matched this March, with one in five catalogues a conditional or unconditional p&p offer. Commonly this year, free shipping was combined with free returns as a further incentive to purchase. This was adopted by womenswear catalogues Penny Plain, Hush, and Brora, among others.

Free gifts was less popular than it was last March, and indeed the least popular it’s been in 2011 so far. The offer appeared on 15 catalogue covers this month, mostly used by business-to-business merchants and gardening catalogues.--MT

Comparing the offers: March 11 and March 10

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