The real estate slowdown hasn’t deterred mailers from tapping in to the home goods market. Two merchants at the low and high end of the spectrum — cataloger Sierra Trading Post and retailer Bergdorf Goodman, respectively — have just launched titles in the area.
After testing the category for more than a year, Sierra Trading Post mailed the first edition of Sierra Home & Gift book on Sept. 24 to 300,000 customers.
“We have been planning this title for about a year and have been extensively testing home and gift related items in several of our catalogs,” says Sierra Trading’s director of catalog operations David Giacomini.
Sierra Trading had received comments in online surveys indicating customers wanted more home items and gifts.
It began testing the category in its core catalog, Giacomini says. The performance of those pages “prompted us to launch a distinct catalog to better meet this demand.”
The 64-page slim-jim-size catalog sells clearance priced products for the home,. The company mails eight other titles, including Sierra Traditions for Men, Sierra Woman, Sierra Outdoors, Sierra Shoes, and Hot Deals.
Giacomini says Sierra Trading Post plans one more mailing of the home book during the holiday season, with a similar circulation. The future strategy includes “rolling out more aggressively next year with more mailings and increased circulation,” he says.
The May postal rate hike was “a major consideration for us this year, as the rate increase was rather significant,” Giacomini notes. “The initial plan for the launch of Sierra Home & Gift was for a wide format catalog. We also had numerous test results of wide vs. slim format with our other catalogs and, as result, felt comfortable with going forward with a slim format.
Sierra a also took “a fairly conservative approach with circulation and segmentation during our rollout of this catalog title,” he notes.
What prompted high-end apparel retailer Bergdorf Goodman to delve into decor with its Decorative Home title? Customer feedback played a key role in this launch as well, says Nicholas Manville, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for Decorative Home.
The 16-page Decorative Home book launched Oct. 15, and it will mail annually to all Bergdorf’s customers, Manville says, though he would not disclose the size of the file. The new title is divided into five themes: curiosity cabinet, classical dining, casual table, boudoir, and Art Deco bar.
Bergdorf Goodman includes two stores: a women’s apparel store and a menswear counterpart, both on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The retailer is part of Dallas-based luxury merchant Neiman Marcus Group, which includes Neiman Marcus and Horchow.
While Bergdorf Goodman has been the only Neiman Marcus Group brand without a print catalog, “we have had gift books in previous years,” Manville says. The gift and fashion catalogs also included some home items; thanks to growth in the decor category, “we literally outgrew the gift book format we were using,” he says.
“Past books focused on specific, single items but we wanted something that represented the spirit of the [store] floor better,” he says. With this book we pulled back the lens to reveal a lifestyle that gives all of these great items a context.”