Catalog Marketing: Michael Tiernan Details Boston Proper’s ‘Sexy’ Evolution
The Boston Proper catalog has come a long way since it was liquidated back in 1991. So, too, has the company that bought its name and list for a song at that time ($100,000) and propelled it to greater heights ever since. That firm — once known as The Mark Group, so named after its former flagship catalog, Mark, Fore & Strike — renamed itself Boston Proper three years ago, based on the success of the catalog and divestiture of the country club apparel title, Mark, Fore & Strike, as well as the gifts and home furnishings catalog, Charles Keith.
Through it all has been the company’s president/CEO Michael Tiernan, who on Apr. 19 delivered the keynote address during the DMA Catalog & Multichannel Council’s annual dinner in New York.
Tiernan and his company have built off a “Let’s Make it Sexy” slogan/mantra they created for Boston Proper not long after they converted what once sold clothes, gifts, toys, gadgets and even office supplies into a dedicated seller of women’s fashion for upscale baby boomers, ages 35-55.
From his presentation, catalogers could take away the following learning points:
* The challenge to “making it sexy,” Tiernan said, is to push the envelope, “but not cross the line.”
* Boston Proper puts together coordinated looks in its catalog from head to toe in aspirational photography in exotic locales, to give customers a dream-like feeling of how good they could look.
* “You don’t change the customer; the customer changes you,” Tiernan said, referring to the manner in which Boston Proper has evolved.
* Bring in experts. Six years ago, Boston Proper brought in former Victoria’s Secret president/CEO Cindy Fields to join the company’s board. She helped the company improve its front end, and build off its “sexy” image without turning it into Victoria’s Secret wannabe.