Children’s market growing up

Dec 01, 2007 10:30 PM  By

From birth through their early teens, kids need a lot of stuff. The children’s catalog market includes clothing, home decor, toys, art supplies, educational games and books. And the list of goods parents need to buy keeps on growing.

According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, the children’s catalog market segment has increased 12% in the past two years. The total 12-month active universe reached 8.7 million names in the third quarter. During the past year, the children’s catalog segment grew by 37 million names.

Company Kids, KooKoo Bear Kids, and Warm Biscuit Bedding are some of the newer files on the market that fall under the furnishings category. These have contributed to the overall increase in the children’s universe.

That universe would be larger if it included big name retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys ‘R’ Us, which do not release mailing lists and therefore do not make the count. Also not included: children’s mailers without separate lists for children’s products such as Lands’ End Kids and L.L. Bean Kids.

The children’s catalogers with the largest 12-month universe counts specialize in a wide variety of products. Mattel’s American Girl holds the top spot with 954,000 names of buyers of dolls and doll accessories. Party supplies, decorations, and favors merchant Birthday Express from Celebrate Express comes in second with 918,000 names. Rounding out the top five are Williams-Sonoma’s Pottery Barn Kids decor title (886,000), the baby-focused One Step Ahead (600,000), and toys merchant HearthSong (351,000).

When it comes to percentage growth, no one beats Cricket catalog from Carus Publishing, which specializes in books and gifts for youngsters through age 14. The cataloger’s customer file grew by more than 400% over the past year, gaining 65,000 names.

Overall, incentive use has been off so far this year, with 19% of children’s catalogs offering at least one incentive in 2007, down from 21% last year. Free shipping is still the most popular, seen in 15% of children’s catalogs this year with such titles as FAO Schwarz, Lilly’s Kid’s, and Little Tykes. As the final quarter ushers in the all important holiday season, use of incentives is likely to rise.

House file universe: children’s catalogs
3Q
2005
4Q
2005
1Q
2006
2Q
2006
3Q
2006
4Q
2006
1Q
2007
2Q
2007
Q
2007
Total universe 7.77 7.33 8.14 8.48 8.66 8.59 8.74 8.63 8.70
Children’s catalogs with the largest active-buyer files
Rank List name 3Q 2007 house file universe Average order
1 American Girl Catalog 953,508 $100
2 Birthday Express Buyers 917,895 $85
3 Pottery Barn Kids 885,772 $170
4 One Step Ahead 600,035 $65
5 HearthSong 350,951 $65
Source: ParadyszMatera