Betty Crocker catalog gets a facelift

Like many aging beauties, the Betty Crocker catalog had some work done. After all, the 38-year-old housewares cataloger bearing the name of the 65-year-old household icon had not been altered in more than 10 years. So with its fall 2000 edition, Betty Crocker has reemerged with a new look.

Minneapolis-based Betty Crocker Enterprises, which is owned by packaged foods giant General Mills, wanted to redesign the book to improve overall sales and reach younger customers (18-45 years old) without alienating the core older customers (35-55 years old), says merchandise manager Renee Stark.

The company charged its catalog agency, Lacrosse WI-based Ovation Marketing, with updating the book. For starters, Ovation simplified the colors – from a busy yellow, red, green, and black palette to black and “Betty” red – and opened up the layout. The design changed from a tight grid format, with product shots clustered at the perimeter and copy concentrated in the interior, to a looser, three-column format that allows text and photos to be placed adjacent to each other anywhere on the spread.

Ovation also returned the product offering to its origins, with an increased emphasis on kitchen gadgets and tabletop items. “The catalog had started to move toward offering too many gifts and accessories, with items such as vases, teacups, storage bins, and toys,” says Ovation’s creative director Nancy Flottmeyer.

On the cover, “we updated the font from a chunky type to the classic cursive script featured in the Betty Crocker cookbook,” Flottmeyer says. By eliminating cluttered taglines Ovation was able to bring the merchandise to center stage. “Product is now the hero,” she adds. “We’ve reduced copy 10% and eliminated redundancy.” The company also added more lifestyle shots showing merchandise such as canisters and baking racks as part of a kitchen setting. Previously the catalog’s items were shot against a countertop or wall background.

The company mailed 1 million copies of the redesigned 72-page catalog in September to customers, rented lists, and names from the Abacus co-op database. A 100-page holiday book dropped in October. Stark projects Betty Crocker will mail 8 million catalogs during the next year.

The company is optimistic about response to the redesigned book. “Last year was tough, and sales were flat,” says Stark. “With the redesign, we’re projecting a 3% sales increase for the first half of 2001.”

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