Babystyle Expects Twin Covers to Give Birth to Greater Profits

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Two images are better than one -- at least that's what the babystyle catalog is hoping.


The book, sent to 300,000 consumers Aug. 9 and produced by Los Angeles-based eStyle Inc., used two cover shots to target different customer segments of the company's maternity and baby collection.


One cover of the 40-page catalog features a pregnant woman while the other has a baby dressed in a robe. The inside pages are essentially identical. However, the version with the baby cover features the baby products in the front and places the maternity items in the back, while the version with the pregnant woman on the cover reverses that order.


"It was a challenge for us to decide if we wanted to go out with a general catalog with a broad spectrum of our products or a more targeted maternity catalog," said Karen O'Neill, eStyle's director of direct marketing. "It's very difficult to find outside lists that identify women at specific stages of their pregnancy. If we were looking at outside lists, we were concerned that we would reach women after they had bought clothing or after their delivery. We sent the maternity catalog to women in the early stages of their pregnancy. For those lists where we were not confident what cycle of their pregnancy they were in, we sent them the baby version."


About 60 percent of recipients got the book with the maternity cover.


The house file received 30 percent of the drop. Of that group, three-fourths were customers and the rest were prospects. Also, four-fifths of that group got the maternity cover.


The other 70 percent of the drop went to prospects obtained from outside lists.


"We also worked with Experian to do data overlays in order to identify catalog shoppers," O'Neill said.


The San Francisco office of Paradysz Matera and The Millard Group, Peterborough, NH, provided the lists.


"We went after catalog shoppers, magazine subscribers and compiled files," said Lariayn Payne, eStyle's vice president of marketing.


The different covers added less than 5 percent to the book's cost, Payne said.


"We were looking at multibuyers with incomes of $50,000-plus," Payne said. "Our business tends to skew a little more to an affluent audience."


The drop represents an increase in the company's commitment to the catalog channel. Though its summer 2000 catalog had a similar circulation, it had half the number of products and the page count was only 28. The new catalog contains 190 items.


"This is part of our multichannel strategy that was part of the plan from the beginning," Payne said. "Although the Internet is our primary vehicle -- we started with a Web site launch two years ago -- we recognized that consumers like to shop in a number of ways, and this would help us reach our target audience."


Free shipping and an additional $10 off for online orders are mentioned on both covers.


"We wanted to offer an additional incentive to drive customers there because it's less expensive to take orders online," O'Neill said. "We want to convert catalog shoppers into online shoppers, and we wanted a call to action on the front cover. We re-created the books online so that it would be more convenient for catalog shoppers to place their orders online."


The average order size is expected to be more than $100 for the book with the baby cover and more than $150 for the maternity cover. The house file traditionally has produced a response rate of 5 percent and 8 percent, and the same is expected from the recent mailing. The company hopes the outside lists generate a response rate of 1 percent to 3 percent.


The company consulted with Haggin Marketing, San Francisco, on the catalog.


Maternity pages include headings such as "Workout wear," "Intimate essentials," "Casual chic" and "Casual classics." The baby section features "Getting baby started with style," "Baby's best basics," "Playful classics," "Baby's luxuries" and "Dream nursery."


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