March is consistently a high-volume month; in March 2010 we logged 141 catalogues, which dipped to 140 in March 2012. This year’s figure of 157 catalogues represents a 12 percent rise on last year and the highest figure since November’s haul of 178 catalogues.
March was also a super-promotional month. Of the 157 catalogues, just 59, or 37.6 percent, didn’t include a special promotion on the front page. In other words, almost two-thirds of the catalogues we tracked featured a discount, free delivery or free gift offer on the cover.
Consistent with previous Catalogue Log data, a sale or discount was the most popular promotion, offered on 45 percent of covers. Apparel cataloguer Artigiano, department store Debenhams and luxury casualwear brand Me&Em all sought to tempt consumers with money off deals. As the chart below shows, discounts on catalogue covers are becoming more and more prevalent.
In keeping with previous years, March saw a peak in the number of catalogues offering free delivery—conditional or otherwise—on the front cover. I partially attribute this to cataloguers introducing their full-price spring ranges, but sweetening the deal by offering free shipping. More than a quarter, 26.1 percent, of all the catalogues we received carried a free p&p offer, making it the highest rate since the Catalogue Log began. We have to go back to September 2010 for the second highest percentage, 24.3 percent.
Among those offering free shipping were apparel cataloguer Tulcan, activewear marketer Sweaty Betty and discount apparel cataloguer/etailer MandM Direct. The offer wasn’t limited to clothing retailers either, gardening catalogue Thompson & Morgan, audio equipment catalogue Russ Andrews and catering supplies merchant Nisbets all offered free shipping to customers in March.
The offer of a free gift with purchase also saw a renaissance last month. One in 10 catalogues offered a freebie—double the figure from February and roughly in line with March 2011. The free gifts included a free insect mesh pack from Harrod Horticultural, free seeds from Coopers of Stortford and a free pearl bracelet and earring set or rechargeable key chain from the Good Ideas catalogue.
As with previous months, I suspect many more offers are being kept off the cover. In March I noted that the Bon'A Parte catalogue offered customers 25 percent off using a loose insert included within. Long Tall Sally did the same offering 10 percent off, free delivery and free returns and furniture retailer Myakka offered me 12 percent off my next order. I still suspect this is in order to be able to tailor offers to specific segments of the database. At least I hope it is, because otherwise it’s a missed opportunity to market directly from the cover and to get the catalogue noticed.--MT