CATALOG MARKET OUTLOOK --Sales on Back Order
"In contrast, other customers are prospecting at close to historical levels, marking a slight rise from fourth quarter 2001 circulations," Hutchison continues. "Additionally, we are seeing some of our customers reinvest savings from moderated prospecting activities and page count reductions by mailing more frequently to their best customers with catalogs featuring their best-performing products. Repaginations of previous catalogs, special wraps or promotions are frequently used to encourage response."
Like the other catalog printers, Perry Judd's has witnessed customers carefully scrutinizing their substrate choices. "We have seen a renewed interest in lighter basis weight stocks, which usually reflects a change in the range of two to six pounds in weight. Customers are also embracing changes in the quality of the paper stocks, moving down one grade," Hutchison notes.
The printer's response to these market dynamics also is in line with the actions of its peers. "We are striving with our customers to achieve continual unit cost reductions," Hutchison points out. "This effort encompasses analysis of the entire workflow and focused process improvement involving both our own and our customers' operations."
Technology may well prove to be the savior of printed catalogs by enabling production efficiencies and more sophisticated marketing initiatives. It also offers the opportunity to close the ordering loop. Leveraging the growing installed base of scanners and digital cameras, or maybe using some kind of digital wand, orders could be placed on line by reading a printed catalog number, embedded watermark in a product shot, or new SKU bar code added to the page. That would remove any potential doubt regarding the value of print to catalogers.