Wednesday, 7 March 2012

February Catalogue Log

After January’s slump of just 62, it was a relief to receive a more respectable 94 catalogues in February. Nevertheless, that’s still 10 percent less than we received last February when we logged 104 catalogues.

A quick glance at the data shows that this year we didn’t receive any catalogues from Staples, Joseph Turner or Toast. We did, however, receive a catalogue from SofaSofa, Pepperberry and Emma Bridgewater. We also tracked several mailers sending us different editions. Crew Clothing, for example, sent us two versions of its Spring 2012 book, plus its new Junior Crew kidswear catalogue. The two Spring catalogues were identical in almost every way. Same front and back covers, same number of pages, but one featured New Collection Offer 20% OFF PLUS FREE RETURNS, while the other went one better with Introductory Offer 20% OFF PLUS FREE DELIVERY & RETURNS. The catalogues were addressed to different Catalogue Log researchers, one of whom had not previously shopped with Crew and one who thought she had, but wasn’t sure. Curiously, the researcher who thought she was a Crew customer received the “Introductory Offer”.

Two versions of Spring 2012 from Crew

Boden did a similar thing. It also mailed two versions of its Spring 2012 edition. Same front cover and same special offer (15 percent off plus free delivery and free returns), but one was 244 pages and the other just 196--no menswear. In addition we also received a Mini Boden kidswear cataloguer and noted an insert in the Sunday Times with the bumper offer of 15 percent, free delivery, free returns and a free gift for new customers.

We also tracked several catalogues from Charles Tyrwhitt, including ones with special offers for customers of Lands’ End and readers of the Sunday Times.  Overall, catalogue covers in February were slightly more promotional than in January—more than half (56.4 percent) featured some sort of special offer on the cover, compared with January’s 52.5 percent. When comparing year-on-year, February 2012 was far less promotional. February 2011 was one of last year’s most promotionally led months and saw more than two-thirds (67.3 percent) of covers feature a special deal.

February's Offers Chart

In February 2011, 49 percent of all the catalogues we received promoted a sale or discount on the cover. This year, that percentage fell to 45.8, or 43 catalogues. Among the marketers offering a discount were childrenswear brand Frugi, homewares catalogue Peacock Blue and b-to-b merchant 4imprint.

Free gifts really fell out of favour in February. We counted only five catalogues, or 5.3 percent, offering a freebie with customer orders: Boden, Rajapack, RU Craft, Thompson & Morgan and catering equipment marketer Blue U. This represents the lowest percentage since we began compiling the Catalogue Log; previously, the lowest figure was October 2011 (6 percent). 

Much more popular last month was free delivery. Nearly a quarter of all catalogues (23.4 percent) featured a free p&p offer on the cover, including Wrap, Peter Hahn and Traidcraft. Once again, especially with fashion catalogues, free delivery was often teamed up with free returns.

Although we don’t officially track how many address labels, carrier sheets or inserts feature a special deal, we are seeing more special offers kept off the front cover. Gifts catalogue Culture Vulture, for example, took 10 percent off if we placed an order of more than £50, The White Company included an insert for 15 percent off plus free UK delivery, while the back cover of a Viking catalogue promised us a George Forman grill.

Speaking of Viking, it was the only marketer to send us a Valentine’s card this year. The card was passed around the whole office and raised a smile with everyone. We’d like to see more b-to-b marketers take Viking’s lead with event-triggered marketing—it’s surely a step in the right direction when looking to foster customer loyalty and encourage customers to continue coming back.--MT

Valentine's card from Viking

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