It’s a Catalogue Log first; we received the same number of catalogues in June 2012 as we did in June 2011. There were more similarities between the two months; not least that June is firmly establishing itself as the sales month of choice among cataloguers.
In June 2011 we noted that 59.3 percent of the catalogues we received promoted a sale or discount on the cover, the highest percentage recorded in 2011. Last month we tallied 46 catalogues, or 56.8 percent, promoting a sale—making it the most sales-driven month of the year so far.
Of the 81 cataloguers we received last month, only 26 featured no offer whatsoever on the cover. Of those 26, there were several that sent promotional carrier sheets or included loose inserts to make up for it. Take, for instance, gifts catalogue Nauticalia, which included a flyer for free delivery on orders of £80 and featured cut-price gift ideas on its order form on page 63. Business-to-business catalogue Action Storage hid its free p&p offer on the inside front cover, while homewares brand Cologne & Cotton offered us 15 percent off and free UK delivery on a voucher included with the main catalogue.
The remaining 55 catalogues went all-out to squeeze an order from recipients. The most popular method was using a sale or discount. As mentioned above, 56.8 percent of catalogue covers in June touted a price-based promotion. Among them were Garden Trading (15 percent off), Graham & Green (10 percent off) and Sweaty Betty (up to 50 percent off).
In distant second place was the offer of free delivery, promoted on just 15 catalogue covers. Often it was teamed with another offer; Woolovers, for example, promoted free delivery and 5 percent off a first order. At Tulchan, customers could shop its “up to 60 percent off sale” and take advantage of free delivery. Hotter Shoes made a similar offer: 20 percent off a first order plus free delivery.
It’s worth noting that free shipping was much more popular this year, offered on 18.5 percent of all catalogue covers last month compared with 12.3 percent in June 2011. Is this a sign that catalogues have become more aggressively promotional in order to compete? According to the Catalogue Log, which has been tracking the offers touted on catalogue covers each month since 2009, it appears to be the case. We’ve tracked an overall June-on-June increase in the percentage of catalogues featuring some sort of offer on the cover rise from 60 percent in June 2010, to 64.1 percent last year to 67.9 percent in June 2012.
I was at a conference recently where I was told older consumers responded well to free delivery offers, while the younger generation preferred receiving a free gift with purchase. I’ve consistently found little to support this argument when compiling the Catalogue Log. Most of the catalogues we tracked offering a free gift—a mere 9 titles in June 2012—were aimed at the grey market like Coopers of Stortford and Witt or at business buyers, like 4imprint. All in all, it appears June is not the month for touting a freebie; free gifts were promoted on 11.1 percent of the covers we logged. Although, that’s the second-highest percentage of 2012 and slightly higher than last year’s 9.8 percent, it’s lower than 2010’s 12.8 percent, and lags significantly behind the 17.8 percent we logged in June 2009.—MT