Retailers such as Ann Taylor and J.Crew have refashioned their direct mail brochures as "style guides." Besides magazine-type content like interviews with celebrities, these print pieces include fashion tips and trend reports. Here's a quick look at two examples that recently popped up in the mail — specifically, how they deliver a rich experience to readers while at the same time keeping direct mail very relevant.
This big-box retailer sent consumers a self-mailer that unfolded to show "4 TRENDS" for spring, highlighting a few examples of each. The brand's expertise as curators or style-setters is leveraged with the quote, "The season's must-haves are all here ... we'll show you how to get the look."
The catalog's cover announces the following about Lands’ End's spring clothing line: "Made to Work: 7 Must-Haves Every Man Should Own," while the inside opening spread shows the seven looks — from shirt and tie to polo shirt and chinos — along with the page number each outfit can be found on.
Now, many retailers can sell apparel like what these catalogers offer. They can promise lower prices, similar quality and exceptional customer service. Target and J.Crew stand apart because of how they keep direct mail relevant. They use high-quality paper, copy and images to break through the mailbox clutter, and build (or reinforce) a unique identity for themselves and a lifestyle for their customers. The focus is on benefits (e.g., looking stylish, looking great for work and play), not just features.
With all of this compelling content, the consumer becomes familiar with the products and the brand in advance of deciding what and how to buy. And with help from retailers like Target and J.Crew, the vast number of choices in the marketplace is made more manageable.
Watch the video above to get a closer look at these style guides, as well as one from Bloomingdale's.