At individual-offer level, the biggest recorded decline came in the number of catalogues that promoted a sale or discount. In April 2012, 40.9 percent of the catalogues we tracked did so. March 2013 saw a similar level of discounting—41.3 percent of covers. Last month, that dropped to 33.6 percent, the lowest level since November 2012.
Among those using special-price promotions was the spring/summer Bodie and Fou catalogue, which offered customers 15 percent off when they spent £100 or more. Furniture retailer Myakka promised customers 12 percent off their first order, while living-aids catalogue Elderberry encouraged customers to shop and save 10 percent on orders of £45 or more.
Twenty-eight of the catalogues we received in April (23.5 percent) made mention on free shipping on the cover. That’s marginally down on March 2013, but in line with the far more promotional April 2012, proving once again that free delivery is become ever more popular with cataloguers. Of those 28 catalogues, many teamed up free p&p with another offer—a tactic popular among apparel catalogues Gray & Osbourn (20 percent off plus free postage and returns), Figleaves (10 percent off plus free delivery and returns) and Boden (15 percent off plus free delivery and returns), for example. Those that elected to use free shipping as a solo offer to tempt customers were predominantly b-to-b cataloguers such as Toolstation, Nisbets and Viking.
Free gifts were less popular in April 2013 than they were at the same time last year. They were also less popular than in March 2013. Just 13 catalogue covers of the 119 we logged last month offered a freebie with purchase—that’s just 10.9 percent. However, putting it into a wider context, 10.9 percent is quite high when you consider that the average for the whole of 2012 was just 7.9 percent.
Looking at the data, free gifts are most popular during March, April, May and August. My theory is that those are prime mailing times for gardening and business-to-business catalogues, which tend to be the most prevalent users of free gift promotions.
On a side note; have you picked up your copy of the Abacus Trends Report yet? The third Annual Trends Report from Abacus is the data cooperative’s most comprehensive to date. This new-look edition features the home shopping revenue trends and mailing volumes of 2012—and makes reference to our very own Catalogue Log data. In addition, it includes interviews with key industry figures including Rosemary Stockdale of Sterling Marketing, More2’s Kevin McSpadden and Direct Commerce editorial director Miri Thomas. Download your copy on the Abacus website.--MT