How to Devise a Merchandise Concept
The most successful catalog merchants have learned to focus their merchandise concept and offerings.
Even a general merchandise cataloger that sells products in several major categories learns there must be a focus to what it sells (e.g., value, credit, lifestyle).
Consumers have a “mental filing cabinet” in which they store retail and catalog brand names. They organize the information by subject (e.g., type of product, type of store), not by company name. So customers must be able to put a label on your catalog to know where to “file” it. If they can’t determine that, or if they don’t have affinity with it, they may forget it.
But if they can file your catalog easily in their minds, they’ll be able to retrieve it just as easily. So when, for example, a friend says to them, “I’m looking for a new rug for my living room,” the consumer can say, “Have you looked at Pottery Barn or Home Decorator’s Collection? They both have a wonderful selection of area rugs.”
Focus, Focus, Focus
What’s a focused merchandise concept, and how do you devise one? First, develop a tag line that’s concise. An effective tag line conveys at a glance what kinds of products prospects can expect to find in your catalog or what kind of experience they can expect to have.
Tag lines such as “expect the unexpected” or “making life more convenient” are too broad for someone who’s going to spend only a few seconds deciding whether to keep or discard your catalog. But tag lines such as “the nation’s leading discount healthcare catalog,” “inspired design for the home” or “office supplies fast and cheap” give a clear sense of what’s inside, and help provide a label for the “mental hanging file.”
Build Your Merchandise Concept