Benchmark Brands Steps Out with New Title

Mar 01, 2006 2:33 AM  By

The first bunch of baby boomers are turning 60 this year, and they don’t want to have to wear shoes like their grandmothers’ in order to be comfortable. With that in mind, Benchmark Brands is launching WalkSmart, a consumer catalog and e-commerce Website targeting boomers, primarily women.

Atlanta-based Benchmark’s other catalog, FootSmart, sells “smarter, better products for lower-body health,” according to its tagline. While it does offer women’s and men’s shoes, health- and comfort-related products such as seat cushions, back braces, and toe separators make up the bulk of the product line.

“We’ve been focused on the boomers from the beginning through our FootSmart catalog,” says president Alan Beychok, “but there is a gap in the market. There is not really a specific Website or catalog that is targeting this group. We’ve found that once women cross the age of 40, they are more interested in comfort but do not want to sacrifice style.”

The 48-page debut issue of WalkSmart will arrive in homes in April; www.walksmart.com is set to launch around the same time. Benchmark Brands will drop 750,000 catalogs for its first mailing. Beychok says the plan is to mail four editions this year.

The WalkSmart collection includes items from about 30 European and American footwear brands that fit the WalkSmart comfort and style criteria. Benchmark also created for the catalog a range of shoe comfort accessories for women’s shoes called Peda?Bella, which will include a line of socks with built-in gel pads, an industry first. Though the target audience will be women, WalkSmart will carry men’s shoes as well.

Beychok says the company will aggressively prospect with names from co-ops and rented lists as well as mail to FootSmart buyers. To be sure it’s ready for the launch, Benchmark will add seats to its inhouse contact center.