Bassett Furniture may have been founded in 1902, but that doesn’t mean the Greensboro, NC-based merchant isn’t willing to try something new. Just this week, the 104-year-old company launched a consumer catalog for the first time to support its 136 Bassett Furniture Direct stores nationwide.
Pete Morrison, director of brand management for Bassett Furniture, says that 1.2 million copies of the 84-page catalog were mailed primarily to current customers. Bassett is also introducing the title to preferred customers and top prospects in some markets this week at private store receptions. The catalog will be available in stores, and an online version is in the works.
Bassett Furniture had relied on furniture retailers to sell its products. But in 1997, the company opened its first store, and it now has 136 BFD stores across the country, Morrison says. “We’ve hit enough [retail] saturation to justify doing a catalog.”
The book will start as a quarterly publication with a product mix reflecting the four seasons, Morrison says. It highlights Bassett’s key collections, with lifestyle offerings ranging from traditional to contemporary to 1930s Hollywood glamour. The catalog also reinforces the strengths of the BFD stores, with descriptions of the Simply Yours customization program and the interior design help available to consumers, which includes house calls by the stores’ design consultants.
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. “We had batted around the idea probably for two years, and we heard many presentations” regarding the effectiveness of catalogs.
The company conducted considerable research before forging ahead with a catalog, however. “We didn’t want to jump in until we knew how consumers considered them,” Morrison says. In surveys, “our customers indicated fairly strongly that they liked getting catalogs.” In fact, more than 70% of Bassett’s customers indicated they look at catalogs thoroughly. “That stated fairly convincingly to us that a catalog was a good vehicle for furniture and decorating,” he says.
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 notes. “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.”