Magalog looks to the great outdoors

May 01, 2006 9:30 PM  By

Two Colorado-based marketers are preparing a cooperative magalog designed to give merchants of outdoor gear access to buyers with active lifestyles and a propensity to buy from catalogs.

Outdoor Republic, a joint venture of Golden, CO-based database products and services company ITW Publishing and Boulder, CO-based marketing and creative agency Infinity Communications, will send a test copy this month to 25,000 prospects. They will then roll out the catalog in the fall to 250,000 names from an ITW database of outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the print catalog, Outdoor Republic will have a Website where customers can shop and enter sweepstakes.

The ITW database has been segmented into a dozen categories of recreation interest as well as by demographics. Outdoor Republic will mail to prospects who spent at least $1,000 in mail order purchases during the past year and have bought from at least nine catalogs.

“We have a very strong affinity selection, including what sports they’re interested in and how often they participate in them,” says ITW president John V. Moore. “When we overlay customer transaction data, we end up with a very powerful targeted list.”

The 32-page Outdoor Republic will include original editorial as well as product pages. The test issue will include articles about trail nutrition, top places to hike, and ideal places to camp. “We’re hoping the shelf life will be long,” says Infinity Communications president Celesta Howe. “We think that people will keep it around, and as they read the editorial they’ll become more familiar with the products.”

Beginning with the fall launch, Outdoor Republic will mail quarterly with product offers and editorial targeted to seasonal activities. So far, advertisers that have committed to Outdoor Republic include Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) and Backpacker magazine, as well as several smaller merchants. In fact, Moore says the magalog would be especially effective for smaller manufacturers who lack sufficient variety of products to fill a catalog of their own.

“There are many great niche manufacturers in the outdoors category,” Moore says. “The depth and width in the marketplace is strong. This is a fabulous way for them to reach out to buyers.”

Moore and Howe are both direct marketing veterans who worked as product managers at database management company Abacus before starting their own companies. They are both outdoors enthusiasts as well. “This is something we’re passionate about,” Howe says. “It’s not just a business; it’s our lifestyle.”