Spiegel Spruces Up Its Big Book Again

Beleaguered general merchandise giant Spiegel is bringing out the big guns — or at least, the big book. Operating under Chapter 11 since March 2003, Spiegel has unveiled a new — and it believes, improved — version of its flagship big-book catalog.

The 400-page spring book, scaled down from 548 pages in spring 2003, mailed in January to an undisclosed number of customers and prospects. Previously the spring catalog had mailed in December; spokesperson Allison Scherer says Spiegel pushed back the mail date this year to “present product closer to the time of need.” In terms of circulation, the book has “a higher percentage targeted to acquisition and reactivation” than last spring’s big book, Scherer says.

Like previous incarnations of the general merchandise title, this effort focuses on “today’s woman,” which Scherer describes as a time-starved mother and/or working woman. To speak to her, the book features a significant amount of editorial, such as cleaning tips from The Queen of Clean author Linda Cobb and recipes from noted chefs included Daniel Boulud and Jamie Oliver. In the fashion section, one page details how customers can take seven black-and-white wardrobe basics and create suitable outfits for a five-day business trip. The seven pieces featured, plus coordinating shoes and accessories — as well as a luggage set — are all sold on the opposite page.

Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel has made countless efforts to revamp its big book during the past two decades, largely to shed its downmarket image as a provider of game-show prizes. But it’s not just the big book that’s getting a redo. Spiegel will also be repositioning its specialty catalogs throughout the year, giving them new names: Entertaining Resource, Travel Resource, Retreat Resource, and Gifts Resource. Spiegel revamped its Eddie Bauer catalog and stores last fall to return the brand to its rugged, outdoorsy roots.

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