Sundance Shrinks Circulation as Page Count Grows

Preliminary response rates and order sizes for the Sundance Holiday 2001 catalog are in line with results for the past two holiday seasons despite a cut in circulation.

Sundance dropped 2 million catalogs Oct. 29 and will mail 500,000 more Nov. 19. That is down 18 percent from 2000 and 21 percent from 1999. Still, early numbers indicate that the cataloger will meet the 1.2 percent response rate and average order size of more than $150 produced the past two years.

“Had we circulated the same [number of catalogs], considering the nation's economic woes, we would be below expectations,” said David Mazzotta, marketing and database manager at Sundance Catalog Co., Salt Lake City, which was founded in 1989 by Robert Redford.

Though circulation is down, the page count has increased to 84 pages this year from 64 in 1999 and 72 last year. Also on the upswing is the number of items appearing in this year's Holiday book — 408 this year compared to 330 last year.

“There's been a growth in apparel and jewelry,” he said. “People tend to give those items for gifts during the season.”

Also growing is the cost to produce and mail the book, at a rate of 8 percent this year, reaching a total of slightly less than 70 cents per piece.

Forty percent of last month's mailing went to customers while the rest were sent to prospects obtained from lists and cooperative databases Mazzotta did not reveal.

“We cut down on mailing to the house list and on prospecting,” he said. “We took a different look at how efficiently we're mailing to our house file, which meant looking at list fatigue and customer fatigue regarding how frequently we're contacting our customers. This was driven by the overall lower response to direct mail pieces and the economy.”

The book's recipients are 75 percent female who are “around 40 years old” living in households with an annual income greater than $75,000.

“[Our customers have] a higher known presence of children in their household compared to other catalog shoppers and they tend to be very loyal to us,” he said.

The catalog, which projects the look of the American West, includes jewelry, apparel, footwear and furniture. The cover features a textile collage by Janet Bolton ($950). Other items in the catalog include Japanese candle cups ($85), an Italian kid suede skirt ($495), a ranch hand jacket ($650) and a limited edition arts and crafts curio cabinet ($2,850).

The highest priced items are the cowboy cuddle chair ($5,900) and ottoman ($2,400). At the other end of the spectrum are postmodern pearl studs at $16 each and handknitted gloves and mittens ($20). Hot sellers include the handknitted inca stripes on the back cover, which include the hat and mittens ($32) and muffler ($24).

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