Colonial Candle Breaks into Catalogs

Oshkosh, WI-based manufacturer/wholesaler Colonial Candle ventured into new territory in October with a 16-page consumer catalog touting its scented candles and potpourri. The launch is a continuation of parent company Blyth’s foray into the catalog industry, which began with its acquisition of gifts and housewares cataloger Miles Kimball in April 2003, followed by its purchase of rival mailer Walter Drake in January 2004.

The 99-year-old Colonial Candle dropped 300,000 copies of the catalog in early October. A second drop was scheduled for early November, with several seasonal mailings planned for 2005.

Miles Kimball president/CEO Mike Muoio says his division helped Colonial Candle with the launch by allowing it to use the cataloger’s IT infrastructure, customer service center, and business information tools. Miles Kimball also helped Colonial Candle find a cost-effective fulfillment center and create an outbound logistics contract.

To find prospects, Colonial Candle worked with list firm 21st Century Marketing, targeting women 24-55 years old with incomes greater than $55,000. Michele Redmon, Colonial Candle’s vice president of marketing services, says the candle manufacturer bought a few lists from Miles Kimball but didn’t receive any “freebies.” Both Miles Kimball and Walter Drake primarily target women in their mid-50s and older with household income of at least $40,000. Miles Kimball’s Exposures catalog, which sells photo and archival accessories, targets a more upscale audience: women with an average household income of at least $150,000.

Colonial Candle products range in price from $0.99 for Simmer Snaps — fragrant wax pieces — to $20.99 for scented two-wick jar candles. The company was pleased with response rates within a week after the book dropped, Redmon says. The average order size exceeded $50.

Given the response to the catalog, more books from Blyth may be on the way. Tyler Schuessler, Blyth’s director of corporate communications, won’t divulge details, but she says that the company is reviewing the viability of producing consumer catalogs for its other wholesale divisions, which include candle brands Ambria, Florasense, and Veneziana, and giftware supplier Midwest.

DISINTERMEDIATION, ANYONE?

Although the Colonial Candle catalog is mailed directly to consumers who have traditionally bought its products from gift stores and retail chains nationwide, Redmon insists that the company isn’t now competing with its wholesale customers. “We’re making sales available to consumers where they choose to shop,” says Redmon. In fact, she continues, retailers have requested catalogs to offer to their customers.

Redmon says she actually prefers to have the catalogs drive traffic to the stores; that way, neither Colonial Candle nor the consumers have to worry about shipping costs. The candlemaker’s Website features a store locator to assist visitors in finding those retailers.

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