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CD Case Brews Interest for Tea Catalog

People requesting the Adagio Teas catalog might think a mistake has been made when it arrives in the mailbox.

That's because at first glance it appears that the marketer of tea and tea-related items sent a CD instead of a catalog. “Adagio Teas” is visible through the jewel case along with the words, “tea classics products & music.” But opening it reveals that what is visible is the cover of a 24-page, 4 3/4-by-4-3/4-inch book.

About 7,000 catalogs have mailed since the book was printed almost a year ago to those requesting the catalog via the company's toll-free number or Web site, www.adagio.com.

“Our company is about 5 years old, and our primary sales channel has always been the Internet,” said Ilya Kreymerman, chief technology officer at Adagio Teas, Clifton, NJ. “The catalog was created to satisfy occasional requests for it. We do not think it is cost-effective to mail monthly catalogs to each of our customers or prospects, and because of our unique catalog packaging we feel that people will hold onto our catalog whereas most others are discarded. We never thought of printing a typical catalog.”

Connecting with the unique packaging is the headline on the back of the catalog: receive disc free with your first order.

But why not just include the CD with the catalog?

“We're a small company, and we didn't want to run into a problem where you start giving out free product,” he said.

Along with the promise of the CD on the back of the catalog, the back of the jewel case lists the 10 adagio pieces in the CD. The total length is 72 minutes. Composers include Mozart, Beethoven and Bach.

“For years we only took orders online, and we were losing business from people who wanted to see a catalog,” he said. “The demand grew to the point where we were turning away business. We came up with a catalog that fit with the musical theme of the company, so we included the catalog as part of a CD jewel case. We believed people would keep it and remember where they kept it.”

The unusual approach has yielded a 10 percent response rate and an average order of $30 to $35, levels Kreymerman is pleased with.

“We didn't think it would be cost-effective to send a mailing out every month or two since our assumption is people will get a catalog and throw it away immediately or toss it after they've cleaned up their home,” he said. “We think the exposure to our catalog is more long-term. Our [per-piece] cost is certainly higher. But most catalogs are mailed once a month, so there is the cost of mailing and printing constantly. Over 12 months, ours is considerably more effective. There's also the allure that it's unconventional. The CD hook definitely works.”

Per-piece expense includes postage, $1.06; jewel case, about 10 cents; and printing of the catalog, 25 to 30 cents. Design and photography were handled in-house. For those ordering from the catalog, the company incurs a per-item cost of 50 cents for licensing of the music as well as production-related costs for the CD of 25 to 30 cents.

“I believe the people ordering from the catalog are predominantly an older crowd and probably 60 percent female,” Kreymerman said. California, New York and Florida are his company's top sales-generating states.

Those placing orders generated from the catalog do so mainly online (60 percent), with the rest via mail (20 percent), phone (15 percent) and fax (5 percent).

Prices range from $1 for a half-ounce sample of chamomile or peppermint tea to $72 for one pound of gyokuro tea, which is imported from Japan.

Hot sellers include a $15 starter set containing a 16-ounce teapot with three one-ounce samples; teas that include Earl Grey and english b'fast (priced from $2 for a sample up to $33 for 16 ounces of english b'fast); and the aria teapot ($15 for the 16-ounce size and $19 for the 32-ounce version).

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