Bassett Furniture cozies up to cataloging

Oct 01, 2006 9:30 PM  By

Bassett Furniture may have been founded in 1902, but that doesn’t mean the Greensboro, NC-based manufacturer/retailer isn’t willing to try something new. In late August the 104-year-old company launched a consumer catalog to support its 136 Bassett Furniture Direct stores nationwide.

Bassett mailed 1.2 million copies of the 84-page catalog, says Pete Morrison, director of brand management, primarily to current customers. The catalog will also be available in stores, and an online version is in the works.

The catalog will mail quarterly and highlight Bassett’s key collections, with lifestyle offerings ranging from traditional to 1930s Hollywood glamour to contemporary. The product mix will be somewhat seasonal as well.

The catalog also promotes the strengths of the Bassett stores, with descriptions of the Simply Yours customization program and the interior design help available, which includes house calls by the stores’ design consultants.

Until 1997, Bassett had relied on third-party retailers to sell its products. But then it opened its first store and proceeded to quickly expand its retail presence. Now, Morrison says, “we’ve hit enough saturation to justify doing a catalog.”

Bassett had been contemplating a catalog for a few years. “For the home furnishings companies that have come on the scene in the past 10-15 years, catalogs are an important part of their mix, and it was something we had to consider,” Morrison says.

The company conducted considerable research before forging ahead, however. “We heard many presentations” about the effectiveness of catalogs, Morrison says. Nonetheless, “we didn’t want to jump in until we knew how consumers considered them. [But] our customers indicated fairly strongly that they liked getting catalogs.” In fact, more than 70% of Bassett’s customers said that they looked at catalogs thoroughly. “That stated fairly convincingly to us that a catalog was a good vehicle for furniture and decorating.”

Morrison hopes the catalog will help broaden the company’s appeal. “We want the catalog to help define our brand and really show our style and capabilities,” he says. It’s important to “not make everything about price,” he continues. “A lot of it is driving traffic and branding. We all realize we have a lot more to learn. After getting results back, further research will be important as we assess where the catalog clicks and where we can improve.”