Two More Mailers Tap the Teen Market

Aesop penned, “Rejoice in thy youth,” but a pair of cataloger/retailers are rejoicing in the youth of consumers by launching catalogs for teens.

In March, Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters debuted a 60-page catalog for its flagship Urban Outfitters brand. (The company also owns cataloger/retailer Anthropologie.) And San Francisco-based Williams-Sonoma is set to launch home furnishings catalog PBteen in late April.

Urban Outfitters mailed 200,000-300,000 catalogs to customers and prospects in late March. Chief financial officer Stephen Feldman says that another mailing is scheduled for the back-to-school season.

“We started our Web business about two years ago, and it has become a pretty profitable venture for us,” says Ted Marlow, president of Urban Outfitters’ retail division. “So we thought we’d give channel number three a shot.”

The catalog, like the Urban Outfitters stores, sells apparel and accessories for men and women and accessories for the Gen Y apartment, such as rugs, furniture, and linens. The average price point is about $45, Marlow says, and all three channels sell virtually the same merchandise. “There might be one or two exceptions, but for the most part we won’t be merchandising for the catalog separately,” he says.

Urban Outfitters targets men and women ages 18 through the late 20s, Marlow says. That’s a younger audience than that of sister brand Anthropologie, whose customers are generally in their late 20s to early 40s.

And the audience of PBteen is younger still. The latest catalog from the Pottery Barn family of titles, which includes Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen is scheduled to mail the week of April 21.

The catalog will sell furniture, rugs, lighting, linens, and decor for teens of both genders. Products will be offered in themes such as surfer, bohemian, and camouflage. And unlike the other Pottery Barn catalogs, PBteen will include editorial, such as a personal style quiz and a room horoscope guide.

While some might argue that the tough economy makes this a less-than-ideal time to launch anything but a value-price catalog, Andy Russell, president/CEO of New York-based catalog consultancy AGA, applauds the move. “Pottery Barn is a strong brand, and not only have they begun to migrate into different product categories, such as bed and bath, but also to different age segments as well,” he says. “Pottery Barn is a mature mailer, and they are not going to make the same merchandising and circulation mistakes that a mailer new to the market would make. The teen marketplace is a logical place for them to go, especially when it’s so hard to find prospects these days.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 million Americans are between the ages of 10 and 19. What’s more, Northbrook, IL-based consulting firm Teen Research Unlimited says teens spent $125 billion of their own money in 2001.

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