Teen Boys, A Difficult Sell for Catalogers

Teen-age boy cataloger Droog, New York, has made their mail-order buyers available, as of April 6, through Fasano & Associates, Los Angeles.

After about a year and a half of mailing, the 29,000 names on the file are miniscule compared to the hundreds of thousands of buyers that Delia’s, their sister publication aimed at teen-age girls, boasts. The numbers indicate that Generation Y’s girls are easier to reach than their male peers.

“It’s much harder to tap into that market. To reach those boys, you’re really looking at lifestyle things that the boys are doing,” said Susan Gilbert, president of list management at Fasano. She added that surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding magazine lists are ideal for reaching the Gen Y boys. However, these publication files are relatively small themselves, and subscribers are not necessarily catalog shoppers.

Alloy, New York, a competitor of Delia’s in the teen girl arena, has made some attempts at selling boys merchandise as well. Their list broker, Tricia Fleming, a vice president at Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ, said, “It is difficult to use that as your primary market,” refering to the lack of catalogers targeting teen boys. The Alloy mail order buyer file contains more than 380,000 catalog buyers, of which 11 percent are male.

“We are still testing and defining what boys want,” said Sharon Pommer, vice president/general merchandise manager at Alloy. “For us, it is an emerging market.”

When the Alloy catalog debuted in 1997, it contained both girls’ and boys’ merchandise. In reaction to customer response, the boys' merchandise has been pulled from the core book and featured in a catalog insert called “Slam 4 Guys,” which, according to Pommer, has mailed three times over the past five months. Whether a separate title for boys is in Alloy’s future will depend upon further analysis and customer demand.

The similarly merchandised Droog and Slam 4 Guys both consist mainly of skate and surf T-shirts, baggy pants and shorts, sneakers and backpacks. Pommer said, “The edge of the merchandise is a little bit different,” between the two.

Droog could not be reached for comment on its future plans in the teen-age boy market.

Droog.com and Alloy.com both sell boys apparel and accessories online, but neither makes their Internet buyers available for list rental.

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