Alloy melds print and online

Catalogers offer everything from free shipping and handling to gifts with purchase to drive traffic to their Websites. But for Alloy, a $10 million marketer of teen apparel and accessories, “the print catalog is four to five times more cost-effective than any portal relationship or other advertising method in driving traffic to the Website,” says cofounder/CEO Matt Diamond.

The New York-based Alloy, which launched its teen community and commerce Website in August 1996 and mailed its first print catalog a year later, runs five or six multichannel promotions a year, Diamond says. The company introduced three promotions this fall/holiday season alone. In its fall print catalog, Alloy promoted a poetry contest judged by pop singer/poet Jewel in which the winner got to meet the performer; competing poets had to submit their work on the Website. Then in late October, Alloy’s winter print catalog advertised a celebrity online chat with Jewel.

In that same book, Alloy teamed with Sony to promote a contest to win a Sony Playstation video console and game. Catalog recipients were required to find icons with the name of Sony’s new game, Um Jammer Lammy, throughout the book and then submit online where they found the icons.

At press time, Alloy was planning to introduce a scavenger hunt with Internet portal Yahoo! in its next print catalog edition, slated to mail in late November. The marketer is devoting a page in the catalog to print clues that will drive readers to Yahoo!’s Website; participants will then be required to submit the hunt’s answers at In exchange for the print exposure, Yahoo! has featured Alloy in teen chat series and other teen-related areas.

One medium isn’t enough

While Diamond won’t reveal how much of a lift the company gets from such promotions, “our catalog response rates continue to be above the industry standard of 2%-3% as a result of the promotions,” he claims. The company, which mails 25 million-30 million catalogs annually to 12- to 20-year-olds, expects sales next year to jump 500%, to $60 million.

Diamond admits that Alloy’s multichannel promotions might be less effective for marketers targeting older customers, who are less likely than teens to favor online interactivity. But even when targeting teens, “it’s not enough to be just online,” he says. “A print catalog gives you credibility to the parents, and it’s often passed along among friends.”