Live from NEMOA: Resilient Catalogers Will Survive

Cambridge, MA – Between sessions at the New England Mail Order Association’s spring conference Thursday, Ben Perez predicted that catalogers will find a way to survive the postal rate hikes that will go into effect in May.

Perez, president of Peterborough, NH-based list firm Millard Group, said catalogers are still trying to figure out how to proceed but that most are flexible enough to find a solution to lessen the impact.

“It’s a resilient industry, and we’re seeing that creativity come out already,” Perez said. “I’m not suggesting that it’s not a hit for some catalogers. It’s going to be a burden, but people will figure out how to respond to it.”

During a “town hall” session on Thursday, Russ Gaitskill, president/CEO of apparel and home decor cataloger Garnet Hill, suggested composing a “laundry list” of things catalogers could do to help mitigate the effect of the rate hikes.

Potential solutions and ideas included:

  • Adjusting trim sizes and/or paper weights to help bring down the weight of the catalog.
  • Comailing with noncompeting catalogs.
  • Mailing more as opposed to cutting circulation by practicing add-a-name, in which you mail to a marginal record in order to obtain a volume discount.
  • Combining mail contacts–if a cataloger has two titles that would not normally target the same audience but that do have some common customers, one catalog would be bound into the other for those contacts.
  • Letter-size mailings–catalogs for prospecting could be folded to fit within USPS’s First Class mail weight and size requirements.
  • Focusing even more strongly on list hygiene and list modeling.

“We need to use the existing tools that are available to us,” said Mike Talbot, vice president of business development for Minneapolis-based co-op CMSDirect. “I’m hoping this becomes an ongoing effort for the industry.”