VDP Gets the Nod from Catalogers and A Big “About Time” from Me

By | November 11, 2010

Multichannel Marketing magazine has been releasing the results of its 2010 surveys. Responses from the catalog industry were particularly interesting because feedback indicates that catalogers are both sticking with print and expanding into new print formats like postcards, fliers, solo mailers, and other direct mail media.

All four MCM reports — catalog, e-commerce, marketing, and operations/fulfillment — are downloadable here. What intrigued me about the catalog report was the merchants’ embrace of variable data printing.

Only 28% of catalogers surveyed in early 2010 said they were using variable printing to customize catalogs, but 35% say they plan to create customized catalogs for specific customer segments in the next 12 months. Another 29% are considering it. That’s a boost from 49% using or considering VDP in 2010, to 63% saying VDP is in their plans or on their radar for the coming 12 months.

Multichannel Merchant Editor-in-Chief Melissa Dowling who authored MCM Outlook 2010, says, “This is encouraging, since variable data printing has been slow to catch on.” She adds, “Even though costs have come down significantly in recent years, most mailers feel the technology is still too expensive—particularly dur­ing the harsh recession. But then, experts say that the returns are much higher with VDP vs. a static print job, especially the more personalized a mail piece is.”

Clearly, it’s ROI. Hence, not only does this say a lot about the growing influence of variable data printed marketing materials, it suggests to me that VDP is about to bloom outwards in other key areas that have been hesitant to adopt. That includes marketing collateral for sure, but I’m also watching for tailored informational material like newsletters, conference schedules, educational curricula, possibly even municipal or county notices targeted to specific residences.

It’s about time.

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