Discount Club Scores Response for Big Toe Sports

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Big Toe Sports, Madison, WI, a cataloger of soccer specialty products, produced results that surpassed expectations for its new discount club launched in the summer.


The inside front cover of its June catalog invited recipients to join its Premier Club for a one-time $25 charge, which would give them a 10 percent discount off items for life.


"We'll get a 5 to 10 percent response on a house list for a typical catalog," company general manager Dan Nuthals said. "Those buying a Premier Club membership turned around and bought significantly in July and August, producing more than a 20 percent response rate."


Circulation for the June book was 100,000, which produced about 2,000 members. Nuthals expected 200.


The company, which produces catalogs monthly and has an annual circulation around 1.5 million, also used the summer to begin changing its focus from business-to-business -- selling 60 percent of its merchandise directly to high schools, colleges and soccer clubs, historically -- to more of a consumer focus. It aims eventually to sell 80 percent of its items to the consumer audience.


"It all goes back to 9/11 with budget cuts at schools, and that trickles down," he said. "Schools have been suffering with cuts in their extracurricular budgets. They have been crushed since 9/11. With the reduction in BTB business, we couldn't stand on the sideline and watch the business go away.


"We started with the covers and made it more of a player feel as opposed to talking to a coach or a club administrator. We tried to get in the face of the player and interest a 12- to 16-year-old."


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