Changes Give Cycling Catalog Uphill Climb
After mailing 5.25-by-5.25-inch booklets devoted to skorts in January 2001 and 2002, the company switched to a 7-by-10-inch catalog this January that featured a mix of merchandise. Products included jewelry, cycling tights, gloves and helmets -- but only two styles of skorts.
The direct marketer of women's cycling-related clothing, gear and accessories expected an average order of $120, the same as last year, but the result has been $90.
"Some of it is the economy," said Jackie Marchand, vice president of sales at Terry Precision Cycling, Macedon, NY. "Another part of it is the design of the book. It's critical that it catches people's attention."
And though the response rate increased about 10 percent from last January's book, it remained below 2 percent.
"I wish we had offered all the skorts in the travel  catalog," said Paula Dyba, vice president of marketing. "We changed so much, so it's hard to say what's going on here. Part of it was the skort phenomenon last year when they bought a skort and a top, kicking the average order up to $120. We gave them that ability this year, but it wasn't as suggestive. There was a little bit of magic about that skort piece last year."
Last year's 24-page booklet was devoted to skorts priced from $55 to $90. A cross-sell promoted moisture-wicking tops from $35 to $60.
"We wanted to do something specific to the skort because we had this popular apparel item that went beyond cycling and could be worn in other sport applications," Dyba said. "Instead of putting it under the cycling umbrella, we tried to attract multisport females. We felt it might be lost in our regular catalogs since a lot of women who play tennis or golf who we wanted to target might not look to a cycling sportswear company for the item."
She said the skort is an unusual garment because of its dual appeal in sport as well as fashion.
"By packaging it with a few tops we could go in a fashion direction as well," she said. "For the square book, the design firm came up with that format as a way of separating the piece from the catalog we produce. The shape of the garment is pretty square, and that size allowed for a lot of focus on the skort itself."
Marchand described the company's target as "athletic women who like to bike [as well as play] golf and tennis. They don't often have children at home and they're affluent, ranging from 25 to 55 years old."
The 2002 skorts booklet mailed to 200,000 recipients. About 75 percent were prospects with names obtained from a dozen lists, including "multisport" lists, magazines and health club participants.
The travel 2003 catalog went to 150,000 recipients, 65 percent of which were prospects.
The company mails about eight catalogs yearly.
"Next January we have some serious things to look at," Dyba said.