In pursuit of excellence

Sep 01, 1998 9:30 PM  By

Since 1986, the Annual Catalog Awards have been recognized as the top honor of the catalog industry. And while catalog marketing has changed significantly in the past 12 years, thanks to technology developments such as digital systems that speed up the creative production process and better, faster, more efficient analysis tools, the fundamentals of success remain the same: exceptional merchandising, creative, production, and customer service, as well as a savvy marketing plan to reach the target audience.

In any competition, it’s hard not to be swayed by good looks. But our judging panel of industry experts knows that pretty pictures or romantic prose does not necessarily a winner make. Strong response rates and solid average orders are what it takes to be a successful catalog. And that’s what our judges look for in determining Gold and Silver Award winners.

There’s usually a good reason-make that several good reasons-that a given catalog is highly successful. An enticing cover that persuades recipients to open the book; magnificent photography that makes products jump off the page; informative, persuasive selling copy; a guarantee and return policy that leave no downside to ordering; and unique or superior product that can’t be found elsewhere. Our judges painstakingly go over the Awards finalists that possess most, if not all, of these attributes to select the top catalog marketers of the year.

In the profiles that follow, we’ve tried to provide a glimpse of what makes these mailers Award winners. We’ve also profiled Catalog Age magazine’s 1998 Catalog of the Year, Brylane, which was selected for this honor not by the Annual Catalog Awards judging panel but by the editorial staff of Catalog Age magazine. Brylane’s impressive growth, aggressive strategy, and remarkable success in the off-price and special-size apparel market have made this catalog powerhouse the one to watch-and the one we choose to recognize this year.

So to Brylane and all of the distinguished Annual Catalog Award winners profiled on these pages, we offer our congratulations, and our admiration for a job well done.