Cataloger Tweaks Book for Better Usability

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Asia for Kids expects to roll out 250,000 of its 2001 spring educational catalogs this month with a design change to make it easier for customers to navigate pages.

The Asian language and culture catalog now uses short descriptions for items and separates them with colorful lines. It is an element that previous catalogs did not offer, said Selina Yoon, president of Master Communications Inc., Cincinnati. The company is title owner of Asia for Kids.

"We tested it in the holiday catalog and found it was better because it makes clear which copy belongs to a certain picture," Yoon said. "Our catalog is a lot more informational. Pictures alone don't drive sales. We thought, however, that having the lines would make things a lot more clearer and make the pages look nicer."

The cataloger also switched paper from a beige tint to a whiter grade.

"This paper adds a brightness, which I believe shows off the catalog better," Yoon said.

Although the catalog targets mainly Asian American parents, it also reaches educators, librarians, parents who have adopted Asian children and parents interested in global culture. Parents are age 25 to 49, highly educated with high annual incomes, and the majority own computers. Yoon declined comment on the catalog's average sales order.

Asia for Kids is sent primarily to names on its house list, which has grown from a few hundred when it debuted as a 16-page black-and-white book in 1995, to more than 250,000 with its current mailing. While the cataloger does prospect, it does not rent names from list agencies.

"We've built our list pretty much from scratch. We would love to rent. However, there are lists out there we don't think [are] efficient for us to do a mass mailing," Yoon said. "We've been growing pretty fast, and word of mouth seems to be our biggest [helper]. Once people get a hold of the catalog, they tell their friends and it creates additional names."

The cataloger has had success advertising in parenting magazines. Yoon also has acquired additional leads through schools with high Asian American populations. She is targeting early childhood development centers in areas highly populated with Asian Americans. A section of the catalog's order form asks customers to write the names and addresses of people who would be interested in receiving the catalog.

Yoon, who worked in marketing for Procter & Gamble before venturing into cataloging full time, said the company does a lot of fine targeting and analysis of its buyers.

"Asian Americans [are] a fantastic group to target because they tend to be highly educated, with a focus on education," she said. "Once you get them in, they tend to be more brand loyal."

She would not comment, however, on what her retention rate is.

The 2001 spring catalog has 2,000 items, including books, videos, CDs, games, T-shirts and dolls.

The 64-page color catalog has three to 12 items per page and is broken into sections, including Holiday & Celebrations, Cinderella Stories of Asia and Educational Resources, Languages. It also is broken down by culture, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

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