Hoping to Create a Goldmine of a Catalog

Aug 01, 2002 9:30 PM  By

How many companies does it take to start a catalog? In the case of GoldAvenue, the answer is four. Launched in November, the Geneva-based jewelry catalog is a joint venture of gold producer Anglo Gold, gold-refining company PAMP, and global finance firm J.P. Morgan Chase. GoldAvenue then partnered with New York-based luxury gifts cataloger L’art de Vivre. (As part of the partnership, GoldAvenue purchased 20% of L’art de Vivre’s private stock shares.)

GoldAvenue sells gold jewelry of at least 18K that has been designed exclusively for the company. The original business plan called for a Web-based business, but mindful of the mishaps of other pure-plays around that time, the company mailed 150,000 copies of a print book at the same time it unveiled its Website.

“It is fantastic for us to find that the higher-priced items, such as the $7,900 Absolute Splendor Disk Necklace, are selling much better than we assumed they would,” says Simon Davis, GoldAvenue’s manager of business development. Originally the company regarded its most expensive products as “halo items” — unique or limited-edition pieces that would generate more attention than sales.

So far, sales from the spring catalog, 250,000 copies of which mailed in April, are on target, says Davis, who adds that he is “very happy” with the numbers. Though he won’t disclose the average order size, he says that it is well above that of most other catalogers because of price points that range from $125 to more than $16,000.

Division of labor

L’art de Vivre handles catalog strategy, merchandising, business management, and creative; its Dover, DE, call center and warehouse handles order-taking and fulfillment. L’art de Vivre also helped GoldAvenue select the prospecting lists for its first two mailings, renting names from marketers selling everything from apparel to museum replicas.

The international aspect of the catalog complicates business, Davis admits. “Our products are sourced from all over the world, so we need to deal with multiple considerations such as varying manufacturing standards, currencies, shipping, and copyright concerns, which are different in each country,” he explains.

Going forward, GoldAvenue plans to increase circulation with each edition. The page count is growing as well, increasing from 28 to 34 pages and looking to hit 40 pages in the fall. But there are no plans to alter the book’s high production values.

The catalog boasts a 70-lb. paper stock and a 9-pt. gold foil cover because “as an unknown name, we wanted to draw attention to the brand, but it goes beyond being different for the sake of being different,” Davis says. “We felt it fitting to take a unique approach and stand out in the mailbox.”