Classic Merchandise Begs For Better Catalog Effort
Florentine Craftsmen Inc. catalog’s greatest strength is its extraordinary merchandise. Every piece in the book looks like it could have graced one of the Newport mansions or been seen in some Hollywood movie with Greta Garbo whispering into Clark Gable’s ear. Words such as elegant, classic, timeless, artisan, gilded-age, wealthy and beautiful best describe the book’s goods. I can’t say the same about the current catalog, however, as it doesn’t live up to the standard of the merchandise it sells.
The catalog has the classic look of a B-to-B company that’s been selling the same merchandise for years, but hasn’t allocated enough time, attention or resources to keeping the catalog fresh and up to date. Because the merchandise is extraordinary, the book works well enough that it isn’t a failure. But it never does well enough to justify spending more, a common problem for smaller catalogers.
Because of an article reprint included in the catalog, I know that the old 80/20 rule applies. (Eighty percent of sales comes from 20 percent of the products.) Florentine Craftsmen’s current catalog strategy is: It has the molds to make pieces that don’t sell, and those items don’t have to be re-shot, so they still go into the catalog. Pages never meet their hurdle rate, sales stay stagnant, and the brand never gets the cachet it needs to thrive.
I’d recommend several things to make this catalog work better. The first and most expensive way is to re-shoot all the items in the catalog so they have the upscale look of the Grand Acanthus Leaf Fountain on page 35. A more cost-effective approach would be to do a smaller catalog with the best sellers and call out the extended inventory online. The least expensive way to go would be to do a four-color cover wrap and make all the images inside black and white. To tie the look of the catalog together, I recommend using typography from the gilded age (think “The Great Gatsby”). This brings forth a consistent look and keeps the newer color images from making the black and white images look like an afterthought, as they do in the current catalog.