Catalog Production: Sorting Out a Complex Process
The pre-plan phase is where marketing, merchandising and creative come together to strategize and conceptualize the catalog. Your teams analyze prior sales for each product and complete preliminary product decisions. Your merchandise department transfers specific product information (especially product benefits) to the design team and copywriter. Although it does take precious time to complete the pre-plan phase, the time spent will facilitate the production phase and result in a catalog that appeals to your customer and sells efficiently.
3. Use square inch analysis (squinch), an analytical tool that measures customer demand and profitability for each product in the catalog compared to its cost. Your merchants can gain insight through a careful analysis of individual product, page and category totals to bring items to market. This creates the analytical foundation for the pagination and space allocation decisions in your next catalog.
4. Have merchants conduct a review — using squinch as a guide — of all products in the current catalog to determine which ones to drop from the next catalog. Typically this process results in a list of definite continuations, a handful of “maybes” and, on average, 33 percent drops. While we all love winners, the drops (or rather the replacements and additions) are what keep the book fresh.
5. Meanwhile, all possible new products should be vetted and the survivors selected for inclusion in the catalog. Each new product consideration should be evaluated for its consistency with the brand strategy.
At the end of this process, there may well be a few products that satisfy the strategy requirements. But, for one reason or another, they land on the bubble and will be included only if room can be found on an appropriate page.
The actual planning meeting constitutes the beginning of the formal catalog production cycle; it’s where the catalog blueprint is developed. This meeting should include management, merchandising, design, copy and traffic personnel.