Wasson, Chester R.||Nelson, J. H. (Professor of business)
M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of Marketing
It is generally assumed that a well structured, properly distributed industrial catalog is an indispensable sales promotion tool to a manufacturing company selling to other firms. Is this assumption well founded? For a particular company, does its catalog produce a quantity of sales sufficient to justify the cost? It was the purpose of this study to find answers to these and other questions -- such as how well this company's catalog is received by users, how it com pares with those of other issuers, and what might be done to improve it. Also considered in appraising the catalog program of this company w ere the problems of distribution and maintenance and the performance of the field sales offices in their responsibility for these functions. A series of questionnaires was used in the search for answers to the question of catalog effectiveness and related questions. Additional information was obtained from the findings of other researchers, and by informal personal interviews with customer users of the catalog. Questionnaires were sent to three different groups: customer catalog users, field sales managers of the company represented by this catalog, and catalog issuers of other manufacturers operating in a similar marketing environment. The largest group surveyed, consisting of present users of this catalog, was asked questions designed to form a basis for evaluating the catalog as a promotional or sales tool. The survey of sales managers provided an opportunity to compare opinions on many of the same questions also asked of customer users of the catalog. Additionally, questionnaires to this, group sought data to determine how well the field offices were handling their portion of the catalog program. The third group surveyed, that of other catalog issuers, provided insight into the nature of the catalog program s of other companies to that a comparison could be made with this company. It was also the aim of this survey to gain an impression of the importance which other companies attach to their catalog, and to learn the means by this they determine its value. A wealth of information was received from these three surveys, providing insight into problems of industrial catalogs generally and this catalog particularly. The data obtained support the following specific conclusions: 1. The catalog is decidedly effective as a sales aid. It is used frequently by many people, most of whom have strong buying influence, and it basically answers their needs. Its use often results in a sales call, with a good possibility for a sale following. Customers also use it to place orders directly, and in amounts which, alone, justify the cost of the catalog. 2. The catalog is favorably received by the user, rating above average in comparison with catalogs of other issuers. Improvements were suggested, with emphasis on the need to make it easier to use. 3. It is established that to be effective, industrial catalogs must be kept current. This catalog is in danger of becoming too out-of-date. The existing decentralized operation of field office distribution and maintenance is operating poorly. The cost is too great for the benefits obtained. 4. The catalog program of this company does not differ greatly from those of other similar companies. It was established, however, that the average catalog distribution of those companies, and the funds expended, appear to be greater than this company. In the light of the findings from the survey questionnaires, it is recommended that the catalog be given a broader distribution, that it be structured to more nearly meet the needs of the user, and that the function of assembly and maintenance be perform ed by the home office of the company. The evidence accumulated through this study firmly establishes the catalog as too important to be delegated an uncertain future in the hands of the field sales offices.
Hartzell, Robert, "A study of the effectiveness of an industrial trade catalog" (1968). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 721.
ix, 101 pages
Northern Illinois University
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