Another Redesign at Restoration Hardware

In a continuing effort to become a destination for purchasers of big-ticket hard goods, Corte Madera, CA-based Restoration Hardware redesigned its catalog to better promote its furniture and lighting products.

The fall catalog, which mailed in early August to 4 million customers and prospects, was tweaked to emphasize more of the hard goods. “We want people to think of Restoration Hardware when they are looking to buy lighting, furniture, bath hardware, and textiles,” says Linda Spellman, the cataloger/ retailer’s director of direct marketing.

For starters, the catalog is bigger: The company beefed up the page count from 112 pages last fall to 156 pages, making this Restoration’s largest catalog to date. The book also now has full-spread introductions to its core product categories.

The company also increased the size of the photos of key products. “The larger images, including those in the furniture guide, give a much better sense of quality and texture than the smaller images we’ve used in the past,” Spellman says.

Including more full-page, full-bleed photos leaves less room for copy and product specifications. More-detailed descriptions, specs, fabric information, and ordering instructions can be found in the 16-page furniture guide inserted in the center of the book. The guide, which is printed on different paper stock than the rest of the catalog, is an expansion of the six-page section featured as part of the body of the fall 2003 edition.

A continuing evolution

With its focus on furniture, Restoration Hardware continues to downplay the nostalgic gifts and novelty items it used to be known for. Such items can still be found in its Wit and Wisdom holiday gift catalog, however. The company plans to mail about 5 million copies of the gift book after Thanksgiving.

Restoration Hardware’s creative and merchandising shift began two years ago. A major overhaul transformed the once-quirky catalog of gifts, hardware fixtures, and decor accessories into a more serious furnishings book à la Pottery Barn. (The resemblance is probably no coincidence, given that former Pottery Barn executive Gary Friedman joined Restoration Hardware as CEO in 2001.)

That makeover was roundly criticized, as many felt that Restoration should not have abandoned its unique product, whimsical copy, and signature silver-sage-bordered pages to become a clone of so many other furniture catalogs. But perhaps the marketer knew what it was doing: Its average order value has increased 10%-15% during the past year to $400. And so far, Spellman says, the fall book is performing “to expectations.”

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