Merchandise: Bathrobes Remain a Classic
March 1, 2001

Bathrobes have been a wardrobe staple—as well as a catalog staple—for years. There are few people who don’t like cuddling up in a warm, soft robe after a hot shower, or coming downstairs for their morning cup of coffee wrapped in their favorite terry cloth robe. Robes are an ever-popular gift item, evidenced by the number of holiday and gift catalogs that featured them this past winter. The Norm Thompson gift catalog, Sundance gifts, Talbots gift collection, the Lands’ End holiday catalog and the Cuddledown of Maine holiday catalog are just a few of the books that presented robes as wonderful gift ideas.

Haute@Home Delivers Delectables
February 1, 2001

At a dinner party, a chef must blend flavors and textures masterfully to create something that a group of diverse people will enjoy. Likewise, the Haute@Home catalog mixes different selling propositions to form a cohesive shopping experience for everyone from novice entertainers who can only boil water, to seasoned cooking and restaurant professionals. Florencia Palmaz, creator and president of Haute@Home, exemplifies the busy entertainer who wants casual elegance delivered quickly to the table. Her mother and business partner, Amalia Palmaz, comes from a more formal entertaining tradition in which the hostess prepares everything from scratch. Both women, who hail from Argentina, are experts on

War Stories: Managing a Photo Shoot on Location
February 1, 2001

E-mail to client: “I must strongly recommend against the proposed photo shoot location, on the grounds that one or more of the crew members could plunge 150 feet down the sheer cliff face to their death.” E-mail reply from client: “Life is risk.” Managing a catalog photo shoot on location is harder than it looks. In fact, a key part of a good project manager’s job is to make the job look easy, because a jittery project manager upsets the crew and slows the work. Whatever happens, as project manager your job is to take it all in stride, consider all your options and

Merchandise Spotlight: Books
January 1, 2001

The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts: monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on. Still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts, of the hearts of men centuries dead. —Clarence Day Clarence Day was the main character of the great Howard Lindsay-Russell Crouse family comedy, “Life With Father,” that ran on Broadway all through the dark years of World

What’s In Your Catalog’s Future?
December 1, 2000

For the past two decades, I have written and spoken worldwide on the future of the catalog industry. My position has always been to challenge conventional thinking, and I have been right on some things and wrong on others, but hopefully always provocative. My early thoughts on the future of the Internet (1994) and its influence on catalog and direct marketing have been, for the most part, accurate. I predicted the growing importance of e-mail marketing, permission-based databases, proprietary databases and the surety of dynamic pricing as an outgrowth of self-directed, online commerce. In 1997, I was correct in my assessment of

Techniques That Get Your E-mail Opened
November 1, 2000

E-mail marketing is new for many catalogers, and most are now concentrating on growing an in-house e-mail file. Some have started weekly or monthly newsletters that contain specials, and others are sending promotions. While many are becoming comfortable with the process of creating e-mail marketing messages, the competition for customers’ attention is growing. In the near future, it will become important for catalogers to set themselves apart from other e-mail marketers. As with print catalogs, several response-boosting techniques are worth testing in e-mail. Looking for Lists Most catalogers are working with their own housefiles right now. They have e-mail registration on

Beauty Breakthroughs
November 1, 2000

Beauty products have long been located at the center of the department store. Elaborate displays of glimmering containers piled high on shiny counters hold promise of a more beautiful person. Now that beauty products have taken hold of the American consumer, luxe powders, shadows and creams are coming to the front door. In the past few years, beauty products have been making their way into major catalogs, such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Saks and Henri Bendel. Lower-end beauty suppliers have made their way into catalogs too. Cover Girl is currently targeting teens through the popular Alloy catalog. After several years of

Creative Cut: Motherwear
November 1, 2000

Mothers who nurse their babies do so for an average of two and a half months—so a catalog of specially designed garments for breastfeeding moms would seem to have a small window of opportunity in which to sell. But customers of Motherwear in Northampton, MA, nurse an average of 16 months. Why? Partly because they love the clothes so much, according to what they tell company President Jody Wright. In the first three-quarters of the year Wright and her husband Prakash Laufer started producing the catalog, sales growth topped 350 percent. Prior to taking over the helm of Motherwear in 1986, Wright had

Creative Cut: The Power of Type
October 1, 2000

The words you’re reading right now are printed in the New Baskerville typeface, at 11 points, with 12-point leading (spacing between lines). This point size and leading are considered just right for readability. Cyrus Highsmith, a type designer at the Font Bureau in Boston, says New Baskerville is popular because its “transitional” look blends the loopy traces of handwriting with the cold geometry of modern type styles. This font is a revival of a typeface originally drawn by English typesetter John Baskerville in the 18th century. Highsmith says Baskerville’s type looked crisper due to the paper he used. Some critics thought the

Alternate Media Other Catalogers Use and Why
September 1, 2000

Producing and mailing a catalog can be a most expensive undertaking. With alternate media you can achieve some of the same goals as with a print catalog: Testing, driving customers (new or existing) to your e--commerce site and building awareness/loyalty. Speaking at the Annual Catalog Conference in June, Kevin Kotowski, of Olson Kotowski & Co. in Los Angeles, named some top reasons catalogers use alternate media, or “non-catalog pieces:” 1) cheaper prospecting than with full-sized catalog drops, since most alternate media are cheaper to produce and mail; 2) building and strengthening your customer relationships with name and product awareness; 3)