MERCHANDISING: More `good things’ from Martha

In its apparent quest to sell to consumers who have no interest in producing their own paper or making their own soap, the catalog arm of New York-based Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has expanded its product offerings both online and off.

Just in time for holiday ’99, Martha By Mail introduced products such as food baskets, linens, and luggage to complement the upscale do-it-yourself items such as glass-etching sets and deluxe cake-decorating tools that the catalog and the Website have sold from the start. And in January, it launched Marthasflowers.com, which sells fresh-cut flowers directly from the grower. “Because Martha has done so much work with flowers…Marthasflowers.com was a natural progression for our brand,” says Lauren Stanich, the company’s executive vice president of consumer marketing.

Stanich adds that the new offers are just the beginning. “We’re exploring our expansion options, and there are many possibilities,” she says, though she won’t give specifics.

As for customer reaction to the new products, Stanich says it’s “too early” to say what response has been like.” But some of the catalog’s original products are still the most popular. “Cookie cutters and holiday craft kits continue to be our best sellers,” she notes.

The catalog mails 11 times annually, 15 million catalogs in all, with 22% going to catalog buyers and 78% mailing to subscribers to the Martha Stewart Living magazine and rented names. The catalog is also the main traffic driver for the Website, which offers more than 1,200 items, compared to 480 in the print book. The print catalog fetches an average order of $88, while the average order from the Website is $63. The lower average order size could be due at least in part to the large amount of sale-priced merchandise sold online.

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