Time for a New Design or Just Bored?
True sadder story: Another successful cataloger had great merchandise, but decided to target a younger audience, basically turning its back on its loyal, profitable customers. The new merchandise and look lost the old customers and didn't win the retailer the hoped-for audience. Within a short time the catalog went belly up.
True happy story: A successful cataloger wanted to reach out to a broader audience age range. It tested a new, trendier design vs. its old, classic design. Surprisingly, there was no measurable difference in response from the brand's old customers. The cataloger was able to confidently roll out the new design to both old and new customers.
Even a successful catalog needs to gradually evolve its design to stay relevant. These steps will help:
- Keep track of changing design and color trends, especially in your own arena. Watch what your competitors are doing. Also, monitor your customers’ behaviors in other areas. For example, if they're reading Architectural Digest, they'll be imprinting on a different design style than if they're reading Western Horseman.
- Watch for new competitors in your arena, especially if they seem to be copying you. You may need a somewhat-more-than-evolutionary design revamp to remain a step ahead of copycat competition.
- Track not just your competitors’ designs, but also their products, prices and service. If what you really need is a product reboot, a new design won't help much.
- Even if all indicators are good, competition is under control and sales are growing, do keep freshening and evolving your catalog's design. However, do so in baby steps to align with your customers evolving design perceptions, while also staying inside their comfort level.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or email@example.com.