Live from Insert Media Day: Inserts Serve a Dual Role

Sep 12, 2004 2:41 AM  By

Rye Brook, NY—According to the speakers during the Direct Marketing Association’s Insert Media Day on Sept. 9, the revenue-generating potential of catalog inserts is limitless. As Pete Rice, senior vice president of marketing of home and garden products cataloger Plow & Hearth, noted during one session, “We wouldn’t have these programs if we were making lots of money and didn’t want to make anymore.”

Plow & Hearth limits the number of blow-ins or bind-ins it accepts from outside advertisers to one per issue. That’s because the company also reserves space for inserts touting its parent firm, 1-800-Flowers.com. So while Plow & Hearth is able to build revenue selling inserts, 1-800-Flowers.com can use the catalog to build recenue by raising 1-800-Flowers.com’s visibility among Plow & Hearth’s audience.

Although the insert program has been lucrative, from a brand perspective “we want to know what the piece is, because there’s an implied endorsement from us,” Rice said. Though he described the implicit endorsement as “very arms-length,” Rice said that bind-ins represent a more direct relationship than the easy-to-remove blow-ins. “So we have more stringent needs for bind-ins based on how they impact our book.”

In analyzing a potential sold insert, Rice said that Plow & Hearth scrutinizes it to make sure there’s no potential negative impact on any products within the catalog. A typical deal-breaker would be a product that might resemble an item in the Plow-Hearth catalog that’s sold for a lower price.

But bind-ins can have a positive impact on catalog product sales, Rice added. They create “hot spots,” as catalogs often flip open to the spread housing the insert.