Live From ACCM: Harry & David’s Winning Ways

New Orleans – What makes an award winning catalog? Neal Schuler, senior vice president for food gifts mailer Harry & David, took attendees inside his 75-year-old company’s bag of tricks during his presentation, “Secrets of an award-winning catalog,” at the ACCM conference here Monday.

Schuler spoke during Monday’s intensive session, “Project Runway: Creating a Red Carpet Catalog.”

Schuler provided some company history:

  • Brothers Harry & David Holmes took over the family orchard in 1914.
  • Harry & David was established as first gourmet-fruit direct marketing company in 1934.
  • Harry & David is best known for its signature product, Royal Riviera Pears, which require special climate and soil found in only a few places in the world.
  • Harry & David’s annual sales top $500 million.
  • Approximately 85% of all products sold are designed, grown, manufactured and packaged by Harry & David.
  • The company has more than 3,500 employees year-round and 9,500 during peak season.
  • More than 57% of annual shipments go in November and December.
  • It received more than 80,000 orders on peak day last season with 265,000 gift shipments on peak day last season.

Schuler said the company has and will always focus on fundamentals: scarcity, difference, establishing high value, and storytelling. There must be visual interest on the cover, he stressed. For Harry & David, its cover strategy involves: consistent execution of brand-right imagery; visual interest; whimsy; “yum factor”; timing relevancy; no more than two marketing messages; and identify product.

Harry & David’s design strategy, according to Schuler, includes:

  • Make it easy to shop. Copy connects to product.
  • Make the copy easy to read.
  • Prominent placement of key messaging.
  • Consistently positioned contact information.
  • Pop product off the page.
  • Design with eye-flow in mind. Leverage “hot spots” on the spread.
  • Provide a visual resting place.
  • Pace the spread designs to create interest.
  • Hygiene: Build style sheets for consistency.
  • Use an agreeable color palette.
  • Build templates and grids for consistent spacing.

Graphics are a huge part of Harry & David’s winning game plan, Schuler said, and requires four ingredients: uniqueness, heritage, quality deconstructed, and abundance. They’re unique because Harry & David designs them in its studio; heritage: American’s original tower gifts – and still the best since 1947; quality deconstructed: explains how Moose Munch treats are made; and abundance: “pound for pound, you won’t find gift baskets that tip the scales likes ours anywhere else.”

In a shifting market, creative refinement is crucial: In this economy, Schuler noted, there has to be value, entry pricing, and reduced shipping costs. With increased competition, there has to be a difference and trustworthiness. And there is a desire for something new, which means looking for new product introductions, line extensions, and online for greater assortment.

Schuler said Harry & David uses a slim-jim catalog, and he’s found that up close depictions of food help mitigate the slim-jim book format. In 2005, Schuler related, a test showed that when the catalog featured a person on the cover holding a tower of boxed food, results diminished. “Apparently, our customers don’t want to see themselves with a tower over their head,” he said.

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.