During the past year, the 12-month active universe for the children’s catalog market has grown more than 11%, to 7.89 million buyers for the second quarter of 2005. According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, some of those new names are due to new titles (such as Garnet Hill’s Growing Up with Garnet Hill spin-off).
The market itself consists of catalogs directed primarily at children under the age of 12 and their parents. Not among the titles included are the children’s apparel books from Lands’ End and L.L. Bean; those companies do not rent or exchange the lists of their children’s books as stand-alone files but instead include children’s merchandise buyers in their master files.
The children’s mailer with the largest available 12-month buyer file is Mattel’s American Girl dolls title, with more than 851,000 buyers. In second place, and with an impressive 88% year-over-year growth, is furnishings catalog Pottery Barn Kids, with more than 769,000 names. Although Pottery Barn Kids was the biggest gainer in terms of list size, some of that growth was because it added the names of Internet buyers to the list.
Other big gainers included another furniture mailer, The Land of Nod (up 59%, to 88,000 names), toy catalog Museum Tour (also up 59%, to 59,000), and party supplier Birthday Express (up 54%, to nearly 623,000).
The use of free shipping as an incentive has increased overall among children’s catalogers. So far this year, 17% offered S&H incentives, up from 14% last year and 13% in 2003. Two of what ParadyszMatera describes as the most active incentive mailers in the category — Lillian Vernon spin-off Lilly’s Kids and Babystyle — routinely offer free shipping along with a second incentive. Lilly’s Kids, for instance, has offered prospective buyers free shipping with orders of more than $40 and deferred billing with credit-card payment; Babystyle has given free shipping and a $10 discount with online orders of $75 or more.
But deferred payment has fallen out of favor: Only 2% have offered it so far this year, compared with 4% last year and 6% the year before.