Benelux List Broker Specializes in Mail Order Inserts.

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ANTWERP, Belgium --- MCLS, a pan-European list broker with home base in the middle of the Benelux countries, sends out several million inserts a year in this rich DM market for major catalogers like Otto, Quelle and Neckermann.

"Neckermann is the largest list we manage in the Benelux countries," managing director Frans Hendrickx said. "They have one million names in Belgium alone and this is a country with only 4.2 million households."

Inserts for a variety of products are placed in Neckermann's main catalog mailed to about 700,000 customers. Another 300,000 mailings go to former buyers in an effort to reactivate them.

"In the Netherlands we have an exclusive arrangement with Neckermann for inserts in catalogs, parcels and other mailings sent to a list of 2.4 million names."

Inserts promote publishers, collectibles, insurance and other financial services and photo finishing companies.

MCLS also works with Otto Versand, the world's largest mail order house, in Holland but not in Belgium where Otto does not yet have a presence. Other clients include the French mail order giants La Redoute and Les Trois Suisses.

While inserts are common in the US, Hendrickx noted, they are not used as widely in Europe and not often in catalogs or packages or as envelope stuffers. "We are one of the leading experts in the insert business in Europe."

In France "we have located the availability for 180 million inserts per year in packages, catalogs and other mail order products. We manage about 40 lists in the consumer market. We don't handle any btb services.

"Our lists are almost always national lists. There are a few exceptions when we handle American or British lists used in selling on a pan-European basis in English. But you have to remember that most European consumers don't speak English as well as some catalog promoters contend."

MCLS specializes in new customer acquisitions and does not handle loyalty programs. But it has created some products of its own, e.g., a coop mailing.

"Come January we will be sending out a coop mailing for Quelle and Neckermann totaling 400,000 pieces. Basically this is used to reactive old customers.

"But we put inserts from other companies in those mailings. Next year we plan to increase these mailings to 800,000 and perhaps internationalize the idea."

While coop mailings are common in the US, the idea is still very unusual in the Benelux market. "I know of only one other such program and that goes to families with a lot of children," Hendrickx said.

"They get discount coupons to buy household products like margarine and coffee. It's a good coop but obviously limited to a very specific market. We created a coop that goes to the typical mail order buyer who is family oriented but has an average number of kids."

MCLS is also engaged in the launch of a magazine style publication where every page is sold to a direct marketer who wishes to sell through coupons which are returned to one central address.

Advertisers pay for the exposure and give MCLS 7,000 names which the company can use in other mailings. Some 50 advertisers have bought space so the book was sent to 300,000 names in Flanders, the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium.

Hendrickx would like to build the circulation to a million but that means developing a French language book and one that could be used in both France and the Walloon part of Belgium.

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