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***DMA Commends Catalogers for Using Internet to Spur Growth

NEW ORLEANS — Catalogers get high marks in the Direct Marketing Association's report card for using the Internet as a channel to fuel growth.

The DMA on Saturday released its third State of the Industry Report, which found that catalogers are taking advantage of their Web sites to attract new customers and increase sales. The report said that catalogers expect to generate 9 percent of their sales from their Web sites this year, more than doubling Web sales that in 1999 only accounted for 4 percent.

Bill Dean, president of W.A. Dean & Associates, who helped conduct the study, and Derede Samuel-Whitlock, research director at the DMA, presented the findings at the Power Forum session at the DMA's 83rd Annual Conference & Exhibition.

Ann Zeller, forum moderator and vice president of information and special projects at the DMA, said catalogers are realizing the benefits of the new technology that the Internet provides. This embrace has benefited catalogers wanting to increase their sales.

Zeller told a crowd of 70 that for the next five years the industry expects to see sales growth of 7 percent each year. This year catalog sales will top $110.6 billion and by 2005 sales are expected to reach $155.4 billion.

For Jeanne Paul, vice president of merchandise and inventory at Good Catalog, Portland, OR, a division of Reader's Digest, the figures were a surprise.

“I was surprised that they were planning for 7 percent growth every year over the next five years,” Paul said. “I would think that they would anticipate that [growth] would start to level off.”

Surveys were mailed to 1,714 companies; however, only 107 catalog executives in firms with more than $1 million in sales responded. Dean said while the response was not high, the report was an accurate representation of what's happening in the industry.

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