Hobgoblins Bring Luck for Design Toscano

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A thatch roof Tiki bar and Hobgoblin of Harwich Manor lawn ornament are helping drive a slight year-over-year rise in the average order for Design Toscano's summer catalogs.


The Tiki bar, priced at $1,495, was on the cover of the main summer drop. The back cover contained the hobgoblin, priced at $29.95 or $49.95 for a set of two.


"Both are in the top 10," said Erik Martinez, director of marketing at the Elk Grove Village, IL, company. "The Tiki bar has had no resistance on the price point. Both [items] are runaways for us at this point."


The summer effort's average order was "a few bucks higher" than last year's range of $100 to $150, he said.


A small summer-to-summer rise in response rate was attributed to "an economy with a lot more optimism, a stock market rebound and people coming out of their shells a bit." Response was pegged at 1 percent to 2 percent, slightly higher than last summer.


Unchanged was the split between house file and prospects, who make up 60 percent of catalog recipients. Also the same is the presentation of about nine items per spread as well as the target audience: ages 35-50, about 45 percent male and an average annual income exceeding $60,000.


Design Toscano describes itself as offering historical reproductions for home and garden. Items in the catalog include an Italian tazza pedestal font, $245; Egyptian museum quality sculptures, $24.95 each or five for $74.95; and a Moroccan monkey butler, $125.


Products in the $125 to $150 range are doing well, he said.


"We target Middle America," he said. "They have disposable income and want nice things for their homes. They might not have as much discretionary income as other groups, but there's a nice array of products below $100 that pretty much anybody can afford."


The summer catalog's average price per item is about $100, "up a couple of bucks" from a year ago.


The main drop was followed by a re-mail that featured a cover change along with more pages and merchandise.


The drop was in-home the day after Memorial Day with a circulation of 1 million to 2 million, a level virtually identical to a year ago. The re-mail had the hobgoblins on its cover and was in home by the last week of June. Its circulation was below 1 million, but was up 20 percent from the summer 2002 re-mail.


"In the past we've run a special promotion to targeted customer groups in the re-mail -- a one-day sale concept," Martinez said. "This time we had a one-day and a three-day sale, meaning that four or five weeks later they get a postcard saying they will get a special, limited-time discount on the entire collection. We suppress last-30 to 60-day orders for the promotion. It's a reactivation tool. We've always done it as a one-day in the past, but this time we tested a slightly longer time frame along with the one-day as part of an A/B split. The increase in the re-mail circulation was designed to support the promotion."


Those targeted in the re-mail were described as customers on the fringe.


"Normally, we probably wouldn't mail them, but the promotion has such a generous response that it offsets the cost of the postcard and makes incremental money, but its primary goal is reactivation of fringe customers, recency-wise, between six and 18 months," he said. "We haven't run this promotion in several years, so we thought it was a good time to re-test it."


This summer's catalog includes 68 pages with the re-mail featuring a 12-page sale insert. The total is up from 60 a year ago for the main catalog and eight pages for the re-mail insert.


"When we looked at the dynamics of the press options, the incremental cost on those eight pages was very marginal -- very low single digits," he said. "The re-mail insert's primary goal was inventory liquidation. Because of our margins, we go with a high-density approach and can sustain the additional pages."


Along with the summer book, the company produces a fall catalog in early August, holiday book in mid-October, winter book in January and a spring issue in April.


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