Mailing Habits of the B-to-B Species

Unlike in the consumer catalog sector, if someone requests a business-to-business catalog, he or she is likely to be seriously interested in making a purchase. After all, few people riffle through an office supplies catalog the same way they do, say, a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Yet when Bill Ruppert, president of Southlake, TX-based consulting firm ResponseB2B, requested catalogs from 141 mailers in May 2000 as part of a study, 61 of them — 43% — never responded. The following May, he requested catalogs from the same 141 companies, and more than half — 75, or 53% — failed to send him a catalog.

Stamford, CT-based list firm MeritDirect sponsored the b-to-b catalog request study. Rupert seeded the requests by changing his company name, personal name, suite number, and phone number to track mailing behavior. During the second year, Ruppert requests catalogs from an additional 14 mailers as well as the original 141.

Among other findings: 35% of the catalogers from which Ruppert requested catalogs mailed more books in the second year than they did in the first. Slightly more than half sent fewer catalogs — reflecting the slowing economy, perhaps.

The following charts highlight more of the study’s findings.

Number of Mailings Received
Mailings received per cataloger Number of mailers
Year 1 Year 2
11-20 7 7
8-10 5 5
5-7 10 14
2-4 39 23
1 19 17
0 61 75
Catalogers’ Mailing Activity for Both Years
NUMBER OF MAILERS % CHANGE
Sent more catalogs 31 35%
Sent the same 11 13%
Sent fewer catalogs 46 52%
The Most Aggressive Mailers Over Two Years
MAILER NUMBER OF MAILINGS YEAR 1 NUMBER OF MAILINGS YEAR 2
Paper Direct 16 18
Fahrney’s Pens 13 13
Kogle Cards 12 9
Airgas Rutland Tools 11 8
Hello Direct 10 12
Baudville 10 11
Atlas Pen & Pencil 10 1
Parkway Business Promotions 9 11
Successories 9 3
Programmer’s Paradise 6 15

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