Web Marketer Brings Hudson Valley to Catalog

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Made In The Hudson Valley, which began operations in April as an Internet marketer of food, jewelry, books, photo prints, blown glass and paintings, mailed its first catalog last month with a higher-than-expected response and order amount.


The average purchase at madeinthehudsonvalley.com was $40 during the second quarter. The holiday catalog, which mailed the first week of November, has produced a $65 to $70 average.


"We were off a bit in our projections since we thought the average would be about $8 lower," said Leslie Gordon, president of Made In The Hudson Valley, Tarrytown, NY. "It was always in our business plan to introduce a print catalog. Our consumer base responded to print media ads, and that suggested that we should run a catalog this holiday season."


The response rate is just under 5 percent, rather than the 3 percent rate Gordon said would please her.


The company's target audience includes many in their 50s and 60s who may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with online purchases, she said, but are familiar with print.


"They wanted to circle items, rip out pages and become one with the catalog at their kitchen tables and coffee tables," she said.


The catalog went to 3,500 recipients ages 35 to 65 with an average annual income of $90,000 or more. Of that, 2,700 went to people in New York's Hudson Valley while the other 800 went to people described as having "a connection or nostalgia for the region," including former residents. Ten percent went to corporations in the Hudson Valley.


The Hudson Valley consists of 11 counties up to about a 2.5-hour drive north of New York City.


"The 800 [recipients from outside the region] was a test to measure the enthusiasm former residents would have for the area," Gordon said. "We targeted ZIP codes in places like Connecticut, California, Colorado and Florida."


About 20 percent of recipients had made a purchase on the site. The other names were obtained through list rentals from regional periodicals as well as area-based organizations including nonprofits.


The 36-page book contains 116 items.


"We grouped complementary items on pages in order to encourage bundled purchases," Gordon said. "We wanted to create a connection to rural communities in the area, and the 116 items were the most popular with focus groups we assembled and had been the top sellers on our site. We wanted to provide a mix of items that would appeal to a spectrum of budgets given the current economic climate."


The book's top-selling items so far include herbs for dips, rubs and spreads ($14.50); whole fruit preserve spreads ($28); biscotti ($24); and a peanut butter gift pack ($33 for a 7-ounce jar pack or $43 for a 12-ounce jar pack).


Leading categories in terms of catalog-generated sales are food, jewelry, books, photo prints, blown glass and paintings. The average price of catalog items is $50 to $60. To save costs, the company put the order form on the inside back cover rather than have a separate page or insert and used a 7-by-8-inch format.


Phoned orders have accounted for 30 percent of sales so far with 10 percent coming via fax and 60 percent through the Web site.


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