Alloy Inserts Offer Fountain of Youths

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As the June 1 deadline approaches for Alloy Inc.'s Campus Trial Pak, its program manager would like to see the inserts branch into some nontraditional areas.

Those areas include starting a dialogue with students that eventually could lead to car purchases, said David Bidwell, vice president and general manager of sampling and promotions at 360 Youth, an Alloy company. Another area is DVD rentals from Netflix.

With nine insert media programs, the New York company offers more than 65 million insert opportunities annually to reach the youth market through sampling programs, package inserts and catalog blow-ins/bind-ins.

"We've got a market that's evergreen," Bidwell said of the audience for the firm's insert programs.

The sampling programs let marketers reach college students, most of whom are away from home for the first time and are buying products and services on their own and forming brand preferences, he said. The Campus Trial Pak goes to 2.5 million students annually at campus bookstores in the back-to-school book rush.

"The campus bookstores use this as an incentive for students to shop at their stores instead of their competitors, and they share in the cost of distribution," Bidwell said.

The program costs $60/M. The pack includes deodorants, shampoos, razors and other health and beauty aids as well as paper inserts with offers including credit cards, magazines, music clubs, book clubs, telecom and Internet service.

The Spring Essentials program distributes 1 million sample packs in college residence halls each spring. Resident assistants in dormitories give them to students.

"Marketers are mostly reaching freshmen and sophomores since a lot of upperclassmen live in off-campus housing," Bidwell said. "They are also reaching students toward the end of the semester before they are going home for the summer, where they will have more access to grocery stores to buy products that they like."

Both sampling programs were developed by MarketSource Corp. and acquired by Alloy in December 2001 when it bought 360 Youth from that firm. Since acquiring the programs, both have seen growth, Bidwell said, though he noted that Campus Trial Pak might be at capacity now.

"You need to fill the boxes so that it has enough value, and not too many companies have more than 2.5 million samples to place," he said.

What Alloy's insert program manager wants to see is more of the sampling advertisers crossing over to the catalog insert programs.

"Catalog blow-in and bind-ins are less expensive and very effective," said Dean Barile, senior client management director at ClientLogic Specialists Marketing Services, Weehawken, NJ.

Though the Alloy programs have been on the market for some time, a newer feature is that inserts can go into catalogs mailing to outside lists, which is unusual, Barile said.

"This requires a longer clearance process, as each insert needs to be cleared with the outside list owner," he said. "And in some cases the outside list owner will ask for an additional charge to allow the insert. It's a tedious thing to do -- but once you work out the logistics, it is very profitable."

The Alloy catalog blow-in/bind-in program offers 27.8 million annual catalogs. Alloy catalog buyers are 100 percent female and have an average age range of 11-17. The Delia's catalog blow-in program offers 20.4 million annual catalogs. Its buyers are 100 percent female with an average age range of 13-24. The CCS catalog blow-in/bind-in program offers 9.7 million annual catalogs, and these buyers are 95 percent male with an average age of 16. The Dan's Competition catalog blow-in program offers 1.8 million annual catalogs. Its buyers are 95 percent male.

The blow-in/bind-in programs cost $30-35/M.

Package insert programs also are available for Alloy with 1.1 million packages a year, Delia's with 1 million a year and CCS with 500,000 a year. Package inserts are $60/M.


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