USPS helps keep catalogs coming

Consumers spend an average of $7,100 in the weeks following a move, according to Boston-based Atlantic Marketing Research. That adds up fast when you consider that more than 40 million people change addresses every year.

Reaching movers, however, has been a challenge for catalogers, who have relied on the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address (NCOA) service to update files. In September the USPS rolled out an adjunct to NCOA to help marketers reach new movers faster. Its Catalog Change of Address and Request Card service enables movers to opt in to receive catalogs at their new address in as little as six weeks.

Working with Imagitas, a Waltham, MA-based marketing services company, the Postal Service began testing the program in fall 2004. Of the movers that completed change-of-address forms, 25% requested at least one catalog. This past November consumers selected an average of 7.8 catalogs per offline change-of-address card and 5.3 catalogs per online request form. Charlie Bravo, a USPS senior vice president, says that this spring the agency will start processing change-of-address requests by phone as well.

Dan McCabe, vice president of catalog sales for Imagitas, says that 27 merchants, including Coldwater Creek, Pottery Barn, and Sharper Image, are involved with the program. Participating merchants pay $5/M to appear on the change-of-address cards, which feature small images of the catalog covers. They also pay $0.80 per mover request.

Cataloger feedback For Cody, WY-based off-price mailer Sierra Trading Post, the program represented a chance for good exposure and a way to generate new names, says catalog marketing manager Cheri Larue. “Perhaps most important, it speeds up getting updated addresses for existing customers.”

For Chicago-based floor covering merchant InterfaceFlor, being able to reach prequalified prospects is the real appeal of the service, says vice president Joe Cahill. “From where we sit this service is about new customer acquisition.”

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