Disney Surprised by Catalog's Staying Power

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More than four months after testing the corporate gift market with a 32-page catalog of products ranging from Mickey Mouse paper weights to Mickey Mouse golf club covers, the Walt Disney Co. still is deciding what form its corporate gift business will take -- and still is taking orders.

The small test of 100,000 catalogs, which dropped in October, brought in a response rate in line with expectations and below industry averages but surprised executives in the length of time that responses have lingered.

As recently as the beginning of this month, the company received an order for $20,000 worth of watches, said Peter Diaz, vice president of corporate gift services.

"The response was a little low but was very extended over time," Diaz said.

The test was mailed to a variety of prospects, including Fortune 500 companies, Disney Gold Card members, Disney hotel and resort guests and attendees of various seminars. Although complete results were not available, as expected, prospects who had a previously demonstrated affinity to Disney products responded most favorably.

The company has not yet decided when and if to drop a second mailing of similar-size catalogs or whether it should consider other options, such as dropping more targeted brochures. However, noting that the catalog originally was produced because the company received an overwhelming number of requests for Disney corporate gift products, Diaz said the program definitely would continue in some form.

"There are a lot of people who have an affinity for Disney because either they grew up with it or their children are growing up with it," he said. "We definitely think many people will look to Disney to be a part of their corporate gift-giving programs. It may not be for everyone -- but for many programs, I think it will be a part of the mix."

Among the hottest sellers were gift certificates that could be used for purchases from the Disney Corporate Gift Catalog, the Disney Catalog or the Disney Store. Desk accessories, such as a clock and a paperweight featuring a quote from Walt Disney, also were popular, and apparel buyers continued to buy apparel.

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