Consumer Specialty Products, Sales Under $20 Million

SILVER: Print Channel

Country Walkers 2010

Country Walkers always makes a splash with its beautiful, aspirational vacations catalog, and its 2010 edition is no different. A breathtaking cover photograph depicts the crystal blue waters and dramatic cliffs of the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and sets the tone for the plethora of exotic destination trips inside the book.

WHY IT WON A SILVER AWARD: The catalog nails the basics — and then some. “A winner! Great job of making the customer want to be on a Country Walkers adventure!” a judge said. “This catalog does not sell products. It sells experiences.”

The catalog copy is crucial in this book, one panelist remarked, since “no one chooses to do one of these trips lightly.” Prospective travelers need lots of reassurance that the company has thought of everything, the judge said. The catalog also encourages readers to call or use the Website for more details.

WHY IT DIDN’T WIN A GOLD: The trip schedule should be in larger type. Country Walkers could also benefit from hero shots to play up specific vacations. Every trip is given the same weight or presentation, a judge said. “They all can’t be equal.” — JT

SILVER: Web Channel

Need party favors for a Breast Cancer Awareness event, or a costume for Elvis Week? Century Novelty’s Website makes it simple to buy items for serious or silly events.

WHY IT WON A SILVER AWARD: Personality makes a difference, and lets the customer know right off the bat that it’ll be a fun shopping experience. “This is a busy, loud home page that is trying to do a lot, but my bet is that it is largely succeeding,” said a judge.

The site’s left-hand column includes assurances that no order is too small for the company to handle, and that customers can receive same-day shipping. The column also includes a testimonial to reassure shoppers that the customer experience will be positive.“I can’t fault them for anything,” said a judge. “They have a very robust customer service FAQ section, plus a clear 1-800 number and online chat, and their guarantee is clear and very conspicuous.”

Judges also liked the “Top 5” themes, which include tips for upcoming holidays, hottest products and party themes. The site makes the most of cross-selling opportunities; each item has six suggested companion products. In the case of a “pirate rubber ducky,” the suggested items range from pirate-themed goodie bags to an inflatable duck pond.

WHY IT DIDN’T WIN A GOLD: It may be the nature of the party favors business, but judges felt Century Novelty didn’t pay enough attention to merchandising and copy. “The site is allowing the obviousness of its products to do the heavy lifting,” a judge said. “I also found myself completely ignoring sidebars.” — TP

SILVER: Web Channel

Collage Video specializes in exercise videos and DVDs. Though it sells thousands of SKUs, the well-organized site is super easy to shop from. Better still, Collage Video’s Website takes steps to eliminate the guesswork for shoppers seeking the right workout video.

WHY IT WON A SILVER AWARD: The site’s home page includes dropdown menus that allow browsers to search by goals, workout types, instructors and brands, and includes a list of popular searches.

Collage Video includes video samples and user testimonials on the product pages. What’s more, its use of cross-selling techniques and product recommendations based on past purchases and similar video types are highly effective. “They do a great job of giving the customer all the information needed to choose in what must be a very confusing array of products,” noted a judge.

WHY IT DIDN’T WIN A GOLD: “The copy is a bit too long and hard to read — it needs bullets and tighter editing,” a judge said. The panel also felt the site’s search should offer an autocomplete, as well as suggestions for misspelled words. — TP

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