Wolferman’s spices up its brand

Having a 110-year-old brand name goes a long way in the catalog world. But sometimes history just isn’t enough. So last fall, food cataloger Wolferman’s decided to reinforce its brand with a dramatic redesign, additional products, and strategic partnerships with names familiar to gourmands. Since then, sales have climbed 25%, and response has grown 5%, says Brian Hubbard, vice president/general manager of the Lenexa, KS-based company.

“We’re trying to appeal to customers’ lifestyles,” Hubbard says. “The idea is to offer the tea party, not just the tea.” With this goal in mind, Wolferman’s has tripled its gift product offerings and is selling more items for entertaining, such as its Miniature Appetizer Tray. And to attract high-end buyers, the cataloger has begun offering more items in the $50-and-up price range, such as a $130 Sunday Brunch package.

Also new this holiday season, and sure to appeal to the upscale buyers Wolferman’s is trying to attract, are partnerships with the Ritz-Carlton of Chicago and with renowned chef Charlie Trotter. “We’ve included a spread that features High Tea at the Ritz, so that customers can buy the same tea that the hotel offers, and we’ll be selling exclusive Charlie Trotter products in the catalog and on our Website,” Hubbard says. “Charlie is also working with us on developing special recipes to include in the catalog.”

Thanks in part to the increase in higher-ticket products, the average order size has grown 20%, Hubbard says, though he won’t disclose dollar figures. The increase in order size is enabling the company to cut back on price discounting during the holiday season-which in turn should reinforce Wolferman’s reputation as a quality foods cataloger.

“We have found that more people are willing to purchase more products at full price,” says Ross Longendyke, Wolferman’s senior manager of mail order marketing.

In its drive to improve its brand identity, Wolferman’s went beyond adding products and striking up strategic partnerships. In September 1997, the company decided to give its brand a uniform look by changing the font in its logo, adding a “lacy” design element around the logo, and emphasizing the Wolferman’s “signature of quality” logo throughout the book. Wolferman’s also expanded the catalog format, going from a digest to full-size, hoping to create more of an impact in the mailbox, according to Hubbard.

“We felt it was a good opportunity to reinvest in the growth of our brand name by updating the catalog,” Hubbard says. “The catalog represents the personality of the brand, and we want customers to recognize it. That’s why we’ve carried these design elements throughout all of our marketing efforts, be it print, online, or packaging.”

Although Hubbard declines to disclose circulation for the redesigned catalog, he says that Wolferman’s has quadrupled its prospecting over the last year.

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