The icon has a new icon: Rye, NY-based industry stalwart Lillian Vernon Corp. is tweaking its catalog, reworking its Website, and even flaunting a new logo.
It’s all part of Strauss Zelnick’s overhaul of the $193.6 million business he and Ripplewood Holdings bought in July 2003 for approximately $60 million.
The new logo features a silhouetted image of a woman holding two shopping bags. “She represents our customer, the woman shopper on the go,” says Alyce Goodman, executive vice president of merchandise and creative, who was brought in this past August. “We’re trying to expand our base while trying to retain our existing customer base.” The core catalog’s 2.1 million 12-month buyers have a median age of 47 and an average household income of $74,600.
Before settling on the new image, Goodman was sure to get the input of company founder Lillian Vernon. “She told me, ‘I’m the best shopper in the world,’” Goodman recalls. “That became the basis for the logo,” which was designed by the San Francisco office of U.K. branding firm Pentagram.
Among other changes, the trim size of the catalog was enlarged from 7-15/16″ × 7-5/8″ to 7-15/16″ × 10″. And front covers now feature more photos of families and younger women. Previous covers typically showcased a product. “We’re trying to introduce a lifestyle element to the catalog,” Goodman says.
Improved database marketing enables more flexibility in modifying and targeting offers. For example, the company did a remail this fall just to customers who’d previously bought kitchen items. Before the sale to Zelnick, every customer received every mailing.
The Website, which accounts for 40% of revenue, is being revamped and will debut in January with new creative and enhanced usability. Improved navigational flow means better-defined categories so that customers can more easily find what they want. The company’s entire 6,000-SKU product line, including Web-only exclusives, will be available online.
Overall, Lillian Vernon introduced 1,500 new products this year, with expanded offerings of jewelry, fashion accessories, and personalized items. Goodman says the changes are a fresh approach “to our focus on organization, personalization, and celebration.”
Speaking of celebration, the company has licensed its name to home party business Everyday Celebrations. Using a Tupperware party model, sales agents sell Lillian Vernon products at home parties. Agents must buy a starter kit, which includes display products, Celebrations by Lillian Vernon catalogs, order forms, and training materials, for $199. The catalog is a tool at the home party, says Vernon spokesperson David Hochberg.
Agents receive a base commission of 25% of sales; Celebrations collects and submits sales tax for consultants and pays any credit-card fees from sales. The cataloger fulfills orders from the home parties, which began taking place in early October.