As We Change Catalog Lives Up to Its Name

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Women First HealthCare Inc., title owner of the As We Change catalog, will split its catalog run this fall, sending a 32-page catalog to prospects and a 40-page book to existing customers. Previously, Women First circulated 40-page books to both lists.

The shift is part of a strategy to cut costs. The company, whose catalog sells perimenopausal and menopausal products, also will mail 4 million catalogs this year compared with 8 million last year.

"Circulation was cut from our prospecting efforts only," said Randi Crawford, vice president of consumer business at Women First HealthCare Inc., San Diego. "In 2000 our goal was to increase the house file by focusing on prospecting. In 2001 our goal shifted to profit, hence the cut in prospecting circulation. Our expenses were greatly reduced by cutting circulation, over $1.5 million, while our sales per book mailed increased, helping us to reach our goal."

The fall book to prospects will eliminate products that prospects traditionally do not buy on the first purchase and items that would require additional purchases. Once a prospect purchases from the smaller catalog, she will be transferred to the house file and will receive the larger book in subsequent mailings, Crawford said.

The cataloger targets educated women age 50 and older with annual incomes of $45,000.

The shift in mailing strategy and the cut in circulation are only part of Women First's changing business plan. The cataloger also has revamped its catalog and launched a magalog earlier this year.

The changes to the catalog began with the spring mailing in January and will conclude with the fall mailing.

One change included the use of younger models after the company noticed women as young as 35 purchasing from the book, Crawford said.

Women First also reorganized the catalog to make it easier for readers to find what they are looking for.

"We have made several changes to the print catalog to make it easier for our customers to shop," Crawford said. "We've included a featured product on the opening page, changed type fonts and colors, increased photos for easy viewing, repaginating and segmenting the catalog by product categories for ease in location. We also added useful health information. Our customers tell us they love the new, softer look, which they find pleasurable to read and easy on the eye."

Women First mailed its first magalog in March and plans to publish another by the end of the year. Fifty thousand copies of the 16-page color magalog were distributed to obstetrician/gynecologists and nurse practitioners to give to their patients. The magalog contains information on health issues for women entering perimenopause or menopause as well as products in the As We Change catalog. The company plans to circulate the magalog twice a year.

"The beauty of our Women First magalog is the credibility of our health advisory board and consultants," Crawford said. "Members of both groups are recognized throughout the healthcare community by ob/gyns, nurse practitioners and female patients."

The magalog was born from a 48-page guidebook that Women First created two years ago.

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