PI 400 -- Catalog Printing - Roller Coaster Ride
John Paloian, Quebecor World group president, magazines/catalogs, agrees. "There was an overwhelming appreciation of the fact that most consumers were not in a 'mindset' to catalog shop as they remained focused on the September 11 news coverage." However, in the weeks following the attacks, consumers have slowly begun to return to catalog shopping, according to Paloian, who reveals that some call centers reported as little as 5 percent of their normal volume on the days immediately following the attacks.
And the fallout from September has continued, as catalogers must now contend with the fears of anthrax in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In response to the threats, R.R. Donnelley & Sons altered its manufacturing processes in order to eliminate the use of slip agents and powder additives from the manufacturing process, reports Steve Zuccarini, president, merchandise media.
The threats are also forcing many to consider alternative distribution methods with possible cost implications. It's an issue so important to Quebecor that the company has gotten involved in the issue of mail security at a national level.
Jon Van Horn, Quebecor's president of strategic relationships, is a member of the recently convened Postal Service Mail Prep Task Force, which is focused on dealing with mail security issues.
Yet, despite the numerous hurdles facing the catalog industry at present, Traub believes that the catalog market will recover and settle into a more realistic pattern. "One must realize that 2000 was an aberration from the usual print production and revenue cycles—most print demand spiked way past historical growth trends. It now appears that we are heading back to the demand levels of 1998 or 1999."
It's an assessment that Zuccarini shares. "If you compare 2001 to 1998 or 1999, you'd find the industry's volumes more comparable. As the economy stabilizes, we fully anticipate that the catalog industry will rebound and that we'll see growth rates similar to those of the '90s."