Web Site Proves Fertile Territory for GreenGrove

The current edition of GreenGrove, an upscale men's catalog, is generating a statistic most catalogers would envy: 71 percent of its sales are coming online while the rest are by telephone.

“We are amazed at how many people are receiving the catalog and placing orders online,” said Angela Evans, president of Double Diamond Design, Nashville, TN, which is the agency of record for GreenGrove, Nashville, TN. “It's a cross-channel approach based on luxury and a relaxing lifestyle. We keep seeing their catalog numbers being entered when they place their orders online. It's great for decreasing the cost of sales.”

Why the success?

“My guess … would be that our Web site resembles the catalog so well, making people feel comfortable,” she said. “It has a seamless feel with the Web site organized with the same product lines that are in the catalog's table of contents.”

But there's more than just synergy between the book and the site, www.GreenGrove.com.

“We also do a lot of online advertising, concentrating a lot on the search engines,” Evans said. “We also do e-mail blasts, and the demographic of online shoppers includes educated persons with a propensity to spend money.”

In addition, right-hand pages of the catalog feature the tag line: “Go to GreenGrove.com for current specials.”

Evans described the book's typical customers as those in households with annual incomes exceeding $100,000. Average prices include $80 for a box of 25 cigars, $90 for Colonel Littleton keepsakes and $75 for a case of Riedel crystal, which typically has four to six glasses.

The company is testing how many times it mails its catalog and the time of year it mails. This year, it's having two drops of 15,000 books each in May and June, and two more drops of 15,000 each in August and September.

“We had never done a drop in the second quarter before,” Evans said. “It's a test.”

The book's customers are 72 percent male. Cigars produce 60 percent of sales while the crystal and Colonel Littleton items each generate 20 percent.

“We figured people would be thinking about Father's Day when it showed up in the mail,” she said. “We purchased the Orvis list as one of our tests, which is the outdoorsman, male demographic. That list was used for the second drop and accounted for 5,000 of the 15,000 on that drop. The other 10,000 names came [equally] from lists obtained from Pottery Barn and Jos. A. Bank. We eliminated some states from those lists and we added U.S. Polo Association members, which was an additional 2,293 above the 15,000.”

The book was not mailed within its home state of Tennessee, where the company counts on word of mouth. Ten states represent 62 percent of all orders: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Texas.

The average order amount for the first two drops has been $139.50, up from $119 for the previous catalog, which went out in November. This is the company's third catalog. The first mailed in fall 2000.

“The amount is up because of the Colonel Littleton items, which are new to the catalog,” she said. “We were projecting in the $130 to $140 range.”

The units per order is 2.1, up from 1.79 in November. So far, the response rate is 1.8 percent, while the November book was at 1.9 percent.

“But it's going up constantly, and the second drop has more life to it,” Evans said. “There's a good chance it will go to 3 percent. We're getting the Pottery Barn list to buy cigars and we did not expect that.”

Also adding to the book's bottom line is advertising, which covered one-third of the production costs. Ads generated $23,750 in the form of income and suppliers' decreased product costs. The November catalog generated $20,250 for eight pages of advertising. The current book contains 8 1/2 pages of ads.

“The first catalog we did was 26 pages with no ads,” she said. “It was primarily cigars with five pages of crystal. Now it's 44, including covers.”

While the first two catalogs measured 6 3/4 by 11 1/2 inches, the latest one is up to 9 by 11 inches.

“If we wanted to save money on production, we had to go to a more standard size,” Evans said. “We thought that part of our selling points have always been the high-quality paper stock and unique catalog size, but we have not seen any adverse effects.”

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