Cataloger's Holiday Prospecting Yields Delightful Results

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A first-time prospecting effort by a marketer of gift baskets, gourmet food and flowers resulted in improved catalog performance during the holiday season.


Delightful Deliveries Inc., Syosset, NY, rented 7,500 names as part of an increase in catalogs dropped from 17,000 a year ago to 40,000 this holiday season. The rest of the added names came from an expansion of its house file.


"We rented mostly corporate names from Bloomingdale's by Mail -- last-12-month gift givers," CEO Eric Lituchy said. "We were looking for an upscale list, and we were hoping to target corporate buyers, who we've done well with in the past. And it was a name we thought we could trust. It was one of several Mokrynski & Associates recommended, and we went with it."


The move also shifted the corporate vs. consumer mix from 30 percent corporate last year to 40 percent this year. The number of products also changed, up from about 100 in the 32-page 2001 holiday book to 150 items on 48 pages in the 2002 holiday catalog.


The book produced an average order of $90 compared with $80 a year ago as the average item price rose from $55 to $60.


"We received a greater number of multiple orders, which was primarily the result of greater selection," Lituchy said. "[The average order] was exactly in line with what we expected."


Lituchy attributes the rise in spending to the prospecting list.


"The list we acquired pushed the average order up," he said. "The acquired names generated an average order that was one-third greater than the overall average order. We thought that segment would be higher. We expected it to be around $100, and it obviously was a lot higher than that. And that's why we're looking at more list purchases. We would like to take [circulation] up close to 100,000 next year at this time."


The response rate was 5 percent, up from 3.8 percent in 2001.


On the consumer side, about 60 percent of recipients are females in households with an average income of $100,000 or more. The house list's top markets include New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Atlanta.


"All of the companies whose products we sell are our partners," Lituchy said. "We get all of their photography, and that saves us a lot of money. They drop ship everything. The only shipping function we provide is coordination. We work out of a 600-square-foot office. We would need 10 people packing if we didn't work this way."


The 8 3/8-inch by 5 3/8-inch book reached homes by early November.


"We are thinking of doing a corporate book in late summer to get it into their hands earlier in the season this year, in addition to the traditional mailing," he said. "We miss a lot of the bigger companies that have already made their decisions, and we would like to do more customized items with logos that require more time."


The book does not contain an order form.


"We've found that it's not so popular and the cost was not justified," he said.


Orders can be placed by calling a toll-free number or visiting www.DelightfulDeliveries.com. The company employs three people who handle calls while TeleRep, Glen Burnie, MD, handles overflow volume and off-hours calls.


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