COLLECTIBLES SHUN MASS MEDIA;AD SPENDING SLASHED, SAVINGS APPLIED TO MORE TARGETED METHODS

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The collectibles industry, rocked by high paper and postage costs, is slashing media spending for the second consecutive year.

Responding to a combined 10% decline in sales for 1995, the industry's top five players have cut media advertising to $55.8 million for the January-April period. That compares with $116.9 million for the same period last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The five are Bradford Exchange, Danbury Mint, Franklin Mint, Hamilton Collection and Lenox Collections.

BEEFING UP DIRECT MAIL

The savings from measured media advertising are being put back into direct mail expenditures, said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, an industry consultancy and research company.

Collectibles marketers "are turning to more targeted house-list mailings, solo mailings and catalogs," Ms. Danziger said.

Spending on solo direct mailings of products and catalog mailings was already on the upswing. Direct spending for the total collectibles category grew 37% last year to $233 million, Ms. Danziger said, and now is expected to increase even more.

RETAIL SALES ARE UP

Collectibles sales from direct mail, however, grew slower than that of retail last year. Unity found direct mail sales for all companies were up 7% to $1.99 billion overall in 1995, while retail sales of collectibles jumped 15% to $6.19 billion.

And although the top five collectible companies' sales declined 10% last year, overall consumer sales in the category were up 13% in 1995, to about $8.2 billion, according to Unity.

Jack Wilkie, Franklin Mint's VP-corporate communications, admits 1995 was a rocky year for the industry.

"The industry experienced a down year-and we were off-in 1995. But I believe all those companies with a strong product line and a loyal collector base will do very well in 1996 and 1997.

"The marginal companies are going through a very difficult transition," he said.

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