Horny Toad Says Catalog Launch is a Success

Apr 10, 2008 12:00 AM  By

When was asked back in November about the plans of his company, Horny Toad, to launch a catalog that will drive traffic to its e-commerce site, Gordon Seabury let out a little groan of disappointment. But as a marketer and Web merchant of men’s and women’s lifestyle apparel, he knew he has to make the public aware of his products.

“I’ve resisted [launching a catalog] for many years with hope and optimism that the Internet would replace the killing of trees,” said Seabury, president of the 11-year-old Santa Barbara, CA-based company, which dropped its first of five 2008 in February. “Waiting for people to come to the Web site may not happen. It came down to catalogs being a traditional driver, and getting them out in a very effective way.”

The 44-page, 9-inch by 6-inch book opens horizontally, and reads more like a storybook than a catalog. Seabury said he didn’t want it to feature every product Horny Toad sells, but rather wanted it to showcase certain items, tell the story of the company, and drive adventure enthusiasts to buy online or at an authorized dealer.

Seabury said the company is also trying to make its catalogs environmentally friendly. The print version is made of chlorine-free recyclable material, and salespeople give out the link to a PDF version of the book to its wholesale clients.

Horny Toad did its second drop this month, and the plan is to have 60% to 70% of each subsequent catalog include fresh content. This, Seabury thinks, will make the catalog more enticing for his audience.

But Seabury says the prototype Horny Toad customer is so niche – an ageless lifestyle consumer who is not attached to a sport, but may wake up and surf, then bike to work, take a run during lunch, and take a yoga class at night – that traditional list rentals are not a prospecting option. So he is enlisting Epsilon’s Abacus co-op database service to find names of consumers with the best potential to opt-in after receiving the first catalog.

But has the perception that he’s killed a few trees to go multichannel helped Seabury grow Horny Toad’s business? Though he didn’t reveal numbers, he said the catalog pilot program is, so far, off to a good start.

“We’ve been very pleased with our results, especially with the economic environment we’re in right now,” Seabury said. “We’ve exceeded our plan, and our response rate has been very positive. We’ll continue to explore catalogs in conjunction with our Web and electronic initiatives.”

Items sold in Horny Toad’s catalog site include men’s button down shirts for $64, women’s tank tops for $40, and terry cloth pullovers for $58.

Horny Toad competes with a variety of lifestyle apparel merchants, including Patagonia, Rvca, and Modern Amusement.