Edmund Scientific Plans Best-Sellers Catalog

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Edmund Scientific, a catalog for science hobbyists, will introduce a best-sellers catalog this spring targeting prospects only.


For 30 years, the Tonawanda, NY-based division of Science Kits Inc. has exclusively mailed a 100-page catalog featuring 2,000 products. As a result, "we have a really broad and deep repository of product information," said Tim Burns, who became Edmund Scientific's catalog manager in April 2004.


Burns examined this information and created a smaller book that is less costly to produce, featuring 400 of the company's best-selling products across a range of categories, for mailing to prospects.


Edmund Scientific's products include binoculars and telescopes as well as toys and kits related to astronomy, earth science, robotics and other areas of science. Prices range from $4.95 to $1,545. The company also has an e-commerce site, scientificsonline.com.


A test of the 52-page best-sellers catalog mailed in November. Fewer products are featured on each page. Results showed a drop in average order size but a lift in the overall response rate. These results, combined with the book costing less to produce than a 100-page catalog, persuaded Edmund to proceed with the concept.


"The economics of the book are so superior that we think it will allow us to prospect more efficiently in 2005," Burns said.


Edmund plans to raise its overall circulation 20 percent in 2005 from 2.2 million last year. Targeted consumers will be "science enthusiasts whose hobby or passion relates to science, weather, geology and fun things that come out of scientific exploration," he said.


The company has scheduled three drops in the spring, with current customers continuing to receive the 100-page catalog and prospects getting the new best-sellers book. The company expects eight drops in 2005.


The order form in the new catalog is a page in the book instead of a bind-in form. The big book still has a bind-in form because Edmund still does "a significant amount of business in the mail," Burns said. Mail orders account for about 15 percent of the company's sales.


Based on the initial success of the new catalog concept, Burns is considering other titles, such as a catalog for parents who want to buy educational toys.


"Our house file lends itself to a title there, too," he said.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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