Weight Gain Was Food Cataloger's Recipe for Holiday Success

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More pages, more products and more catalogs provided a recipe for success during the holidays for a marketer of gift baskets, gourmet food and desserts.

Delightful Deliveries Inc., Syosset, NY, pushed the page count for its 2003 holiday catalog to 80 from 48 the previous year while the number of items jumped from 150 to 240.

"You're better off selling more products in your catalog to give people more choices," CEO Eric Lituchy said.

He noted that 100,000 catalogs dropped in early November compared with about 50,000 in the previous year.

"I was a little worried about the economy, but things have been improving," he said. "The main risk would normally be the cost of postage, but we thought it would be easily covered by more sales."

Lituchy avoided a rise in postage despite the increased page count by using a lighter paper stock, so per-piece postal expense remained 22 cents. Per-piece production and printing cost, however, climbed from 15 to 28 cents.

The higher expense was justified as the response rate held steady at 5 percent for both the business-to-business and consumer recipients. On the BTB side, the average order rose to $120 from the prior year's $110 while the consumer end produced an increase to $75 from $70. This occurred despite a drop in the average price per item from $65 to $62.

"It came down since we added some lower-priced items, with many new items in the $25 range," he said. "This was done to get people to buy who were looking for a nice little gift and not looking to spend a lot of money. It was also for corporate gift givers who want to order in bulk."

One of these new lower-priced items is the Chocolate Peppermint Bark, which is chocolate interlaced with peppermint, priced at $18.95.

About 60 percent of the books were mailed to consumers. But in terms of dollars generated, the segments were divided about equally.

In the consumer group, the cataloger obtained 8,000 names from Nueske's, a Wittenberg, WI, cataloger of smoked meats, as part of a list exchange while the others targeted came from the house file. A list of 15,000 BTB corporate gift givers was rented, with Lituchy not disclosing the source, while the rest came from the house file.

"Our house file has always done well, and we were very happy with the corporate list while the consumer one was fair," he said. "Nueske's customers are very upscale, and they have excellent products with some crossover with what we sell. Our customers and their customers are very similar."

Along with new products from Mrs. Fields, items were added from Flying Noodle, which makes gourmet pastas and sauces, Lake Champlain Chocolates, cakes from Greyston Bakery, caramel apples from Mrs. Prindable's and dips and preserves from the Robert Rothschild Farm.

Top sellers from this holiday season included: Mrs. Beasley's gift baskets (eight and 10 servings for $42.95 and $53.95, respectively); the Fruitasia fruit basket ($54.95); the new The More the Merrier snack basket ($104.95); the new Sweet Snowmen Cookie Arrangement ($45.95); and Shari's Berries, which are gourmet chocolate-dipped strawberries (a dozen priced at $49.95 and two dozen for $79.95). The best-selling item was new and appeared on the back cover -- the Office Party gift basket ($84.95).

Lituchy described his customers as having average annual household income of $100,000 or more with an average age of 30-plus.

An order form is not included as page 2 is devoted to the company's "Brand Spanking New Website" with a list of what's new at DelightfulDeliveries.com.


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