Thursday, 4 April 2013

March Catalogue Log

Over the past few years the Catalogue Log has tracked how, to boost sales, marketers are experimenting with promotions. While price cuts are by far the most common offer, free delivery is creeping up the popularity charts.

I don’t know about you, but there are certain email subject lines that almost guarantee I am going to open the email. The first is Your Order Has Been Despatched, which I click on to check delivery times and status. The second is Free Delivery. No Minimum Spend. Just last week a skincare brand elicited a buy response from me by sending a well-timed email. I was already in the market to buy a cleanser to replenish my depleting stocks and although my preference was for that brand, the delivery charge put me off. I was seriously considering buying a similar item from another online retailer that offers unconditional free shipping on all items instead. That free delivery email won saved the sale.

What is becoming evident from the Catalogue Log data we’ve collected is that the popularity of free delivery on email is filtering into print. We thought February was a record-breaking month, with 27.2 percent of catalogue covers promoting free shipping. March topped that with 28.9 percent, or 35 catalogues. As the chart below shows, the month of March has experienced a steady increase in the number of catalogues touting free p&p, while the use of other promotions has remained relatively constant. 

Overall we received 121 catalogues in March 2013, a staggering 23 percent drop on last year’s haul of 157. A quick glance at the list shows we didn’t receive a mailing from Lakeland or Misco last month, but we did get a Lego catalogue and Tandy Leather buyer’s guide. Other new names last month included Cornwall-based Poppy Treffry, fashion etailer Atterley Road and the Organic Gardening Catalogue.

Still the most popular promotion, 41.3 percent of catalogues promoted a sale or a discount on their front cover. Interestingly, a similar percentage (39.7 percent) featured no offer at all. One offer that stood out was from the Folio Society. It promoted the Times Atlas, a publication the Folio Society says is worth £150, for just £9.95. Is it just me, or does that have the wrong effect on the concept of “perceived value”?

There was somewhat of a resurgence in the number of catalogues offering a free gift with purchase in March. One in eight (12.4 percent) catalogue covers promised a freebie, compared to less than one in 10 (8 percent) in February. The gifts included a free silk tie from Charles Tyrwhitt, free pearl earrings from a Daily Mail reader offers catalogue, mini digital kitchen scales from Fashion World and a “Spring is in the Air” tote bag from The Owl Barn, among others.

I promised last month that I would share my favourite covers of the season. Sadly, no Easter-related covers really grabbed me, but the Spring catalogue from Hotter scores top marks. It features the strapline Shoes to fall in love with immediately drawing the reader in. The cover evokes happy days by the lake, and the addition of a dot whack offering 20% off your first order plus free delivery is a welcome added bonus.

Selling “comfy” shoes, Hotter doesn’t fall into the trap of forgetting about fashion. The models are young and photographed having fun—on swings and hammocks with young children, lazing in classic cars, even exercising. The colour scheme is pastel, reminiscent of spring blossoms and flowering gardens. The copy’s spot on too: The smart heels in our Signature Collection are more than a little out of the ordinary. That’s not just because they come in beautiful brights and soft neutral shades (though they do), it’s because of the Comfort Concept features in every pair! Flexible, super soft, with luxurious pillow soft underfoot cushioning that you’ll feel in every step – bliss! I’m not the target demographic, but this catalogue has me tempted.--MT

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