BTB Cataloger Makes a Move Home

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After seeing the consumer portion of its business soar, business-to-business lighting cataloger Topbulb has spun off a consumer company, LightingfortheHome, which will launch its first catalog Oct. 15.


"We began focusing on the Web four years ago," LightingfortheHome president/CEO Philip Bonello said. "Consumers found us on the Web, and our customer database changed to 60 percent business, 40 percent consumer over a two-year period. When that happened we did not have the mix of products needed to build deeper relationships with our customers. We decided to create a new company -- LightingfortheHome."


Competition doesn't seem to be much of a concern.


"On the catalog side, there are a lot of catalogers that sell lighting in their mix of products, but no other that focuses on just lighting," Bonello said. "Since we are already in the catalog business, we did not have to start up a warehouse or call center. All of the front-end and back-end aspects of the business were in place. We were in an admirable position since we didn't have to incur a full range of expenses that a cataloger out of the gate would have to incur."


The company will mail 60,000 copies, which Bonello called "very conservative for us."


Marketing director Tracy Meyer said the mailing would be split into six roughly equal segments, including names selected from the Topbulb house file and five lists that were not identified.


Recipients are upscale homeowners with annual household income exceeding $75,000 "after taxes" or with a net worth over $1 million. They also have shown a pattern of buying upscale home furnishings and live mainly in metropolitan areas.


The book's average price point is about $300.


A solar lighting section is expected to generate significant sales.


"With all the focus on energy efficiency, that's a high demand area with consumers as everyone is looking to save on energy costs," Meyer said. "We expect to expand that in future catalogs. We also think the kids' section will do well. Our thinking is that just about everyone has contact with a child."


The first issue contains a healthy 72 pages.


"It was high," Bonello said. "We wanted everyone to know that we are serious and we're here to play."


Still, the catalog cannot accommodate the full product line, which is where lightingforthehome.com comes in.


"In the print world you have so much real estate, but on the Web, as we find new products, we add them every day," he said. "We look at the catalog as both a sales vehicle for us and also a marketing tool, driving them to the site where they can walk around in a bigger store. I wouldn't be surprised if the Web equaled or beat the phone on the percentage of dollars generated."


The goal for the catalog is a 1 percent to 3 percent response rate and average order of $125 to $250.


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