Home Depot Direct on an upscale climb

Having launched a triumvirate of catalogs during the past year, Atlanta-based retail giant Home Depot is hot on the trail of upscale buyers.

The typical Home Depot retail customer is difficult to define, says spokesperson Jean Osta. The stores simply cater to those in need of home improvement products at a variety of income levels.

But the typical customer of the original Home Depot decor and home improvement catalog earns $65,000 on average, and target buyers for Home Depot Direct’s newest titles are even more affluent. For instance, 10 Crescent Lane, a Website and a monthly home furnishings book that debuted in September to 1.5 million names, targets women with household incomes of more than $225,000. Its product line encompasses items such as $5,200 love-seats, $675 coverlets, and sets of four wineglasses for $320.

Paces Trading Co., a lighting catalog and Website that launched a month later, targets the same audience as 10 Crescent Lane. In fact, virtually all of the approximately 1 million debut catalogs went to names taken from the 10 Crescent Lane list. Paces Trading’s offerings include a $489 Crystal Floor Lamp and a $1,099 Elegant Glass 6-Light Chandelier.

In March, Home Depot mailed about 1 million copies of yet another new title, Outdoor Living. Though its target buyers are somewhat less wealthy than those of Crescent Lane and Paces Trading, they’re still upscale, with household income of at least $75,000. The 200-page Outdoor Living book includes more than 1,200 items, ranging from a Targa Outdoor Wicker Collection dining set for $3,325 to a 30-piece BBQ Tool Set for $80.

The Outdoor Living catalog, which mails monthly, is more closely aligned with the original Home Depot catalog than with the other two new titles. For one thing, it displays the Home Depot logo on its front cover, unlike Crescent Lane and Paces Trading. For another, the products in Outdoor Living are available in Home Depot stores; the merchandise sold in the Crescent Lane and Paces Trading catalogs aren’t.

The softer side = bigger dollars

The three upscale catalogs were inspired by the company’s inaugural gifts catalog, Holiday Inspiration, which was introduced in 2003. That book sold everything from power tools to small home appliances to holiday-oriented gifts for the do-it-yourselfer — items that were already available in Home Depot stores.

“Our idea from there was simple: Let’s create a new gift catalog, and let’s attract women,” says Shelley Nandkeoylar, president of Home Depot Direct Brands. “And I like to push boundaries, so after that we decided to target those women with a lot more disposable income, creating a higher-priced, softer side of home improvement.”

That mindset gave life to 10 Crescent Lane. Then, because lighting has been such a huge product category for Home Depot, Nandkeoylar decided a stand-alone upscale lighting brand was warranted.

The retail giant isn’t afraid to experiment with catalogs. “Obviously direct is very much an intuitive environment — test and learn, test and learn,” Nandkeoylar says.

“In the case of 10 Crescent Lane and Paces Trading, we have been prospecting to garner new names for our database,” he continues. “When consumers log on to the main Home Depot Website, they can opt in to Home Depot Direct as well.” Customers can opt in to any of the three upscale catalog titles online through www.HomeDepot.com as well as the core catalog.

In the catalog world, a great premium is placed on having multiple titles, Nandkeoylar says, because of the economies of scale and the cross-selling opportunities that result. Little wonder, then, that Home Depot has its sights set high on building up its direct business.

“We hope to have a sizable house file for all three books by 2009,” Nandkeoylar says. And while direct sales currently account for less than 10% of Home Depot’s overall business, “we forecast it to be a $1 billion sales arm by 2010.”

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