Universal Solution

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

In one year, online sales for AnotherUniverse.com have grown from 3% to 25% of the catalog’s total business.

Steve Milo, president of the Baltimore-based company, expects e-commerce to be his primary selling channel by the year 2000-which explains why he changed the name of his 10-year-old company to match its URL.

The Web site receives 750,000 unique hits a month, with the average visit lasting 9.2 minutes. Approximately 70% request a catalog.

As a result, Milo has stopped what he calls paper prospecting and now focuses on reaching new customers over the Internet.

Approximately 5 million print catalogs are distributed a year and there are 250,000 active buyers. The average order has increased by half, to more than $50.

When the catalog began, only comic books were offered. Over the decade Milo broadened the product selection to include such items as toys, statues, lithographs, T-shirts and limited edition collectibles for comic book characters as well as animation, science fiction and fantasy tie-ins. But comics remain the core product.

While “Star Wars” is a staple, “South Park” and “The X-Files” are strong. Xena, Batman, Spider-Man and “Star Trek” are also popular. The customer base has been broadened to include more female buyers with a selection of collectible Beanie Babies.

Nevertheless, the majority of Milo’s customers are male. For three blow-in and package insert programs offered by Leon Henry Inc.’s LH Management Division in Scarsdale, NY, AnotherUniverse.com’s customer base is described as mostly male, between the ages of 12 and 45, with a median age of 21.

(Milo adds that the average age of a print catalog customer is 23, while the typical age of a Web site customer is 28.)

The company is also a user of inserts itself. Inserts for AnotherUniverse.com have appeared with publications like ToyFare and the comic book magazine Wizard, as well as comic books and science fiction magazines.

The rest of AnotherUniverse’s marketing strategy is geared toward Memorial Day 1999 when the new “Star Wars” film is released. Milo’s betting that it will beat “Titanic” in box office sales.

For the immediate future, Milo favors “Godzilla,” “Small Soldiers” and “The X-Files” film for popularity and tie-in merchandising. As for two other heavily hyped summer movies-“Zorro” and “The Avengers”-he sees little potential for product or profit.

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