‘Be There or Be Square’; Why & How Lillian Vernon Reverted to Its Old Square Format
Lillian Vernon, a Virginia Beach, Va.-based cataloger and online retailer specializing in household, organizational, children’s and fashion accessory products, has gone back to its roots in search of future success. The company’s catalog has reverted to its more unique dimensions, 8 inches by 8 inches, after a four-year departure. The 56-year-old multichannel merchant first introduced the square format in 1986, but in recent years had been using the more common 8 inches by 10 inches format.
“It was such a well-known format for the core book that we wanted to return to it,” says Vice President of Marketing John Buleza. “It’s kind of in keeping with a lot of the other changes we’re making, from positioning to merchandise — similar to what it was back in the days when the company performed better.”
One goal Buleza hopes to achieve with the return to the square catalog is increased brand awareness. “It’s an important part of our brand,” he says. “There aren’t many people at a square format.” As an example, he cited a woman collecting a stack of catalogs turned upside down from her mailbox. With its square format, she would likely be able to identify the Lillian Vernon book without even looking at the cover, he believes.
To go along with the revamped catalog dimensions, Lillian Vernon has changed the merchandise and pricing within the catalog. Believing it had strayed from what its customers truly want — gifts, home decor, kids’ products, etc.— the catalog’s merchandise underwent an overhaul. “Our merchants felt we had shifted toward more of a fashion orientation,” Buleza says, “a lot of handbags, as an example. Our customers really aren’t looking for us to be providing that to them. It’s the gift, the home decor and the kids’ product where our strength is.”
One product example is the new “World’s Best Grandpa” throw blanket to complement its previously marketed “World’s Best Grandma” throw blanket, which it has offered for a number of years. Realizing the value its customers place on things such as family, tradition and holidays, the company has adjusted the catalog with such values in mind.