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Oldies Are Goodies for Cataloger's First DVD-Only Book

A direct marketer of music and movies to middle-aged adults and senior citizens is generating an average order nearly triple the original expectations for its first catalog to feature movies exclusively.

Collectables Records and Alpha Video, Conshohocken, PA, produced a version of its Nina's Discount Oldies catalog offering DVD old-time movies priced at $5.95 each or five for $25. A burst on the cover promotes free shipping for orders exceeding $50.

“The average order is about $65,” said Joe Buesgen, vice president of consumer direct marketing at Collectables Records and Alpha Video. “It's much stronger than we thought it would be since we thought a lot of people would just go for the five [movies] for $25 offer since we're prospecting so much. We thought they would just try us out, but people like the $5 offer. The majority of orders are in increments of [five movies for $25].

“The free shipping offer is always the customer favorite. We used it to increase the average order since at five for $25, the carrot would be to get them to go up to the $50 price, and it's an important part of the catalog's success.”

The 50-plus age group targeted by the 40-page book with 400 titles is offered “primarily male” genres such as mystery/thriller, westerns, science fiction and horror, described by Buesgen as “classic monster movies.” Most of the titles date from the 1920s to '50s with some made in the 1960s and '70s.

Previous catalogs also marketed movies, but mainly featured music.

“Our consumer is primarily attracted by the value price point since the 50-plus group is a value-conscious group,” he said. “Secondarily, they are drawn to the wide variety of titles across the different genres released by our company that is evident from the cover. It got to the point where we were dedicating a lot of our catalogs to DVDs, and we said there's enough content for a standalone DVD catalog.

“Common expressions from people getting this catalog include, 'I remember this from my childhood,' or, 'I didn't know I could get this on DVD,' and, 'I didn't know this stuff was available anymore.' Seeing all of the movie titles on the cover gets them to go inside the catalog.”

Rather than one or two drops, the company is using weekly drops through the summer, from the last week in June to late September, with a weekly circulation around 50,000. The company's size prompted the unusual mail plan.

“We have an in-house call center as well as our own fulfillment center,” he said. “We are a small company, and by chopping this up into smaller drops, it allows us to spread our business over time and provide a higher level of customer service rather than being inundated with calls and being unable to handle the business. The call center staffing varies between 15 and 20 representatives on staff at any given time.”

The company's entire house file of about 100,000 was targeted in the first month of the mailings. Prospects and requesters also were part of the first month's effort and exclusively constitute those targeted after the first month. Beyond the house file, there was an 80-20 split for prospects over requesters. Prospect names were obtained from about 30 lists.

So why does the company's first movies-only catalog offer only DVDs?

“In addition to being a direct marketer, we're also a manufacturer,” he said. “Our product also sells at retail, and at retail our sales are primarily DVD with very little VHS. The real estate dedicated to DVDs in our previous catalogs has been growing.

“As a manufacturer, our financial model is completely different from other catalogers, so we can [sell] for $5 apiece a DVD that, at retail, would be between $7 and $8.”

Top sellers in the catalog include The East Side Kids comedy series, which occupies the pages 4-5 spread, and the Sherlock Holmes titles.

Response rate projections are 5 percent to 7 percent on the house file and 2 percent to 2.5 percent on prospects.

“It looks like we will probably exceed those numbers,” he said.

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