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New catalog gives independents a chance to compete.

The industry's movers and shakers have all the embellishments that big money can buy - multi-store chains for greater name recognition, ceo profiles in national magazines such as Inc., the spotlight exposure of sponsoring national events such as concerts, and the luxury of sizeable promotional budgets. Competing with these powers has been difficult, if not discouraging, for the independent specialty coffee and tea retailer with a limited promotional budget.

But a new venture offers revenue-generating potential within the advertising and promotional budgets of many small independents. Successful with The Gourmet Catalog for 12 years, The Catalog Co. based in Dallas is offering a new catalog geared toward the specialty coffee and tea market. Featuring products ranging from small electrics to tabletop from 25 vendors, the Coffee and Tea Catalog is designed to be customized for specialty retail stores.

Not only will the catalog bear the name of the store participating in the Coffee and Tea Catalog Program, but the inside back page will present the "story" of the specialty retailer. Another customizing option for the retailer is to insert photography and a listing of the store's whole-bean coffees.

"It's an opportunity to cash in on the catalog business. Sales reached $49 billion in 1991," said Janis Johnson, owner of The Catalog Co.

It allows the small independent to compete image-wise with franchise operations, she added. "It's a great way to stimulate retail and create traffic flow for small stores. "

A catalog brochure mailed to 3,500 coffee and tea retailers elicited 400 responses, which indicates a strong need for this advertising and promotional vehicle, Johnson noted.

The 16-page annual holiday catalog is 6" x 10 7/8" and is formatted quite similar to The Gourmet Catalog. To participate, the stores must stock the products in the catalog. One stumbling block: A store could be locked into one vendor while the catalog includes products from a competing vendor.

On the positive side are the substantial savings from discounts and dating offered by participating vendors. Additionally, Johnson and staff attend major fancy food and gourmet housewares shows in pursuit of saleable products for the catalog. For some retailers, who are unable to attend trade exhibitions, the catalog team is a sourcing adjunct.

A minimum order for a retailer is 5,000 at 40 cents per catalog with an additional expense for mailing (12.4 to 19.8 cents). Mailing costs are included in an optional $200-per-1,000-catalog package in which The Catalog Co. provides the mailing lists and applies labels. A minimum package for a store that doesn't have its own mailing list would run approximately $3,000.

Retailers that want to compare the cost of participating in The Coffee and Tea Catalog Program with independently producing a store catalog should consider copy, layout, design, photography, typesetting, paste-up, printing, list rental, and mailing expenses.

Retailers determine how much they could afford to spend on such a venture might consider that the median store advertising budget is 1.5% of anticipated annual sales, according to Irving Burstiner, Ph.D., in his book Mail Order Selling. However, Burstiner added that new stores may need to spend substantially more: "Even 5 or 6% of anticipated sales might not do the job."

Johnson said The Catalog Co. will produce only one Coffee and Tea Catalog per year because small stores can't finance more than one major advertising thrust a year.

For retailers desiring more information, Johnson can be reached at (214)855-0005.

Susan Friedman, a former editor of the Gourmet Retailer, has her own company that specializes in public relations and marketing promotions. She is based in Miami, Florida at (305)532-5204.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:the Coffee and Tea Catalog published by the Catalog Co.
Author:Friedman, Susan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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