SPIN-OFFS: Birth of a teen Venus

Mar 01, 2000 10:30 PM  By

Venus Swimwear targets teens with new title

Hoping to convert teenage girls into lifelong buyers, Jacksonville, FL-based swimsuit cataloger Venus Swimwear in January launched The Venus Edge, a swimsuit catalog targeting the teen market.

“We wanted to capture our customers younger, in their teens, and graduate them to our core catalog as they get older and grow out of the category,” says Daryle Scott, president of privately held Venus Swimwear, whose core catalog targets women ages 21-35. “And our research indicates that teens buy multiple swimsuits every year.”

The Venus Edge launched with a 500,000-piece mailing; two additional drops of 250,000 are planned for the spring and summer. Most of the names were rented from teen catalogers such as Delia’s and Alloy. Venus also mailed to about 20,000 names from its house file, after doing some modeling to determine which households in its database included teenage girls.

The company designs and manufactures all the swimsuits for both catalogs. And though the average price for a swimsuit doesn’t vary much between the Venus Swimwear and Venus Edge catalogs (Scott says it’s about $60 for the core book vs. about $50 for the teen catalog), Edge’s stylings are trendier. Teen girls, Scott says, are more concerned with fashion, while adult women focus more on fit and comfort.

Not that Scott claims to know which styles teens will want to buy. That’s why the cataloger relies heavily on two teen advisory boards consisting of daughters of employees and friends. (Scott opted for two boards because a vociferous member of any one panel might sway the others, he says.) The advisory boards “are an important voice on the jury,” Scott notes. “The rule of thumb is, if my generation doesn’t like it, the teens will love it.”

The launch of Venus Edge follows the company’s acquisition last June of $35 million Middleton, WI-based cataloger WinterSilks, which sells silk sweaters, long johns, and sleepwear. Venus bought WinterSilks largely to create a counterseasonal business. And in January, Venus doubled its warehouse space, adding a two-story, 64,000-sq.-ft. structure to its Jacksonville facility.