Kino comes in for a close-up

May 01, 2008 9:30 PM  By

Fellini, Polanski, Capra, Huston, DeMille, Griffith, Peckinpah, Eisenstein — just a few of the greatest film directors of all time, and just a few of the directors represented in the Kino International Catalog of movies on DVD. What a treasure trove for the film buff!

Let’s start with the offer. The free shipping offer on orders over $50 is good. It’s also just the price of admission these days. It’s displayed in a red dot on the cover, in copy on the back cover, and mentioned in the “PS” of the president’s letter on a cluttered and confusing page two.

And those are the only notices of the free shipping offer in the catalog! So here’s a missed opportunity to articulate the offer in a more compelling, frequent (throughout the pages) and consistent way.

It should try other promotions, too. Let’s posit that in Kino’s business a group of top customers delivers most of the revenue and gross profit margin dollars. So let’s assert that a key business strategy must be maximizing top-customer value, right? Selling more to your core customers?

In that case, versioning the catalog for this group — delivering recognition and reward messaging, and testing a sweetener offer too — should be a great tactic for this company. For example, an offer such as “Limited time: take an additional $20 off your order over $150.”

Here’s a catalog with story power potential second to none. But Kino has yet to tap the rich opportunity here and connect with its customer as effectively as it might. Kino is an insider promising access to defining moments in movie-making history, from early film to avant-garde to art house cinema to new releases. Kino can deliver a deeper experience, and surround the movies with related content online for all customers: from average to erudite to the obsessed. And yet one does not enjoy an insider’s view “beyond the blockbuster” in the printed catalog. There are hints in the copy, but much untapped potential.

Speaking of copy — so important in a catalog like this — it is generally working hard here, considering short word counts and a high-product-density layout.

First, the purely functional: The point size of the body copy is too small. This is important, because this is not a catalog that relies on aesthetics to sell. It is driven by copy. Readability is required. Story would be nice.

Kino’s use of quotations is rampant — and effective. Building credibility, objectivity: The LA Times, The New York Times, DVD Talk, even Art Forum. You get the idea. It is good!

The catalog layout, though, if you squint your eyes, looks a little like a clearance vehicle. It lacks the film house aesthetic. The bugs, slugs and cosmetic violators (new, special price and other promotional graphic bursts) pepper the pages of requisite product shots, mostly flat art shots of video box covers.

The feeling is of an older workmanlike catalog design, very studio, a cut-out solution with little depth in the creative presentation. And again, the content is so rich with possibility!

Strategically, Kino should develop its catalog to become more of an online driver, this reviewer thinks. Kino is in a position to enhance the prospect’s “product consideration experience” by providing video — scenes and trailers, and other “insider” content — for the long tail of prospective customers hooked up to the Internet.

In fact, the company has the capability to stream teaser movie scenes online, and it flags the available content on the catalog page with a pointing finger graphic that works adequately.

The Kino catalog runs a default call-to-action line of copy across the bottom of every spread displaying the 800-number and the Website URL. Okay, but is this really an online driver?

There’s missed opportunity here: to start anecdotal about-the-scene stories on the catalog pages and continue and enhance the experience of them online. Start with the bigger potential sellers, the hero product presentations in the catalog.

They are executed now in a formulaic and uninspired way. Push and evolve these hero product presentation treatments creatively throughout the catalog.

Online drivers (the catalog’s strategic purpose) should be incorporated, connecting customers to specific online video content on more creative and “insider” oriented landing pages. Start the story on the catalog page, and continue and expand on it online, enhancing film buffs’ experiences, immersing them in the actual product content.

The Kino catalog prescription? Work harder to drive customers to the Web. And reel in the specific and varied individual customer interests that product copy evokes to targeted landing pages online for more.

Relying on the catalog’s single default call-to-action URL alone drops all customers — some with very specific expressions of interest — at the store’s front door: the Kino home page.

What’s more, the catalog should not shy away from cross-selling and recommendations — that’s what its customers want. Go, Kino! You have a great platform and lots of headroom to engage at a deeper level with your movie-buff customers.

ROB PALOWITZ

The Kino catalog showcases a unique product line of DVD movies that speaks to a market of movie lovers in a unique niche. Overall, the catalog has some good things going on with it that may just need to be refined to make them better.

The front cover, showing a still from Lady Chatterly plus six classic film DVD covers, uses its space to give you the mood of the catalog and what it has to offer as well. It’s descriptive, includes an offer, shows titles and lists the Website URL.

What it doesn’t have is the phone number, which I think should always be an attribute of and available on the front cover. Same goes for the back cover, which shows the variety of the selections and references those matching pages along with the pertinent information mentioned above.

The opening spread of the catalog has some good elements on it — the picture index, table of contents referencing pages, direction to the Website to view trailers to support product choice, and the mention of podcasts, too. All good stuff! It also ties in the color coding of the sections, which would be helpful to a prospect customer.

My problem with this opening spread? The font usage. There seems to be too many different fonts/typefaces used and that sort of “junks up” the pages. I would suggest working with a style guide to establish not only usable fonts, but a palette of colors too. That way, you gain consistency throughout no matter who works on a page layout.

I like the layout formats used on the first selling spread, but they seem to get lost and are not used again in the catalog. Back to the word “consistency,” which should be used throughout the catalog. These two formats I believe work better at keeping the product organized and easier to read than do some of the crowded, monotonous spreads found throughout the book.

Some spreads, such as pgs. 10-11, use a different format to show product, one that seems to be better suited for the offerings of DVDs in box sets. I’d like to see a more 3-dimensional picture of the box sets here as well.

One spread in the middle of the book uses tinted boxes to call out a few products. This is good — Kino should use this treatment more throughout.

Possibly adding drop shadows to the product may help it pop off the page, too. The callouts of the ratings are nice, but overpower the product a little too much. Kino might want to play that down a little Or at least the cataloger could take the ratings out of all caps and use uppercase/lowercase characters. The all-caps treatment gives more emphasis to the rating, whereas adding a little color may achieve the same result.

The center spread, with the order form envelope, is another great hot spot that Kino is not making the most of. The cataloger may want to consider using that area for closeouts, special deals or promos if it does not currently. Kino should really look to “blow out” more popular selections or products with high margins in this spot.

Here’s a major concern that applies to the whole catalog: There are no product numbers or SKUS to order the product. How do customers order, by product name?

I think it makes it tougher for customers to order what they want without some sort of numbering or inventory numbering system in place. Kino could realize some major time savings in the order entry department if it provided part numbers.

I would like to see a little more color in some of the closing spreads. Possibly the footer layout with the good information of the Website and hotline to order would be better served in a more visible fashion.

Perhaps a dark box with reverse copy or color area bleeding off the page without any other imagery around it would work. That would apply to the whole catalog footer format as well. And the index could afford to be a little more legible, with use of baselines or tabbed dots to make it easy to follow the location of the items.

Overall, Kino International could use a creative clean-up rather than a major overhaul. It needs to work on styling to gain some consistency throughout the catalog — in a way that speaks to its target audience more effectively.

Better use of shaded or tinted boxes, improvement of some photography and drop shadows would enhance the buyer experience. That may, in turn, equal additional sales for Kino.


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