HearthSong Tests Kids’ Furniture Insert

In a brand extension test, toys cataloger HearthSong bound a 16-page insert of children’s furniture into its second fall catalog, which mailed in late August. The mailing went to 600,000 HearthSong customers and requesters, as well as a small portion of prospects.

Called KidSpace, the line includes children’s beds, desks, and dressers. Most products are sold as themed sets. Prices range from $9.95 for decorative wall borders to $1,050 for a bunk-bed set with desk, storage, and play space.

Plow & Hearth, the Madison, VA-based catalog division of 1-800-Flowers.com, has produced HearthSong since 2002, a year after 1-800-Flowers bought the title from the now-defunct Fulcrum Direct. Pete Rice, Plow & Hearth’s senior vice president of marketing, says the insert is the focal point of a growth strategy for HearthSong. The title’s sales have increased by “double digits” for the past two years, Rice says, and “we continue to feel that this is a growth brand.”

In early September, Plow & Hearth placed a KidSpace section on the home page of the HearthSong Website. The 16-page insert also appears in HearthSong’s early holiday catalog, which mailed in late September. Around the same time, the company sent e-mails promoting the KidSpace line to the 30% of its customers who had opted in to receive HearthSong announcements. As of late September, according to Rice, results from the catalog insert were slightly above plan. The company hasn’t made any decisions about creating a KidSpace stand-alone catalog.

Plow & Hearth chose to extend the HearthSong brand into home furnishings in part because the Plow & Hearth team has experience in selling and shipping furniture. In addition, surveys, focus groups, and customer feedback indicated demand for such a line, Rice says.

Despite the existence of other children’s furniture titles, including Bombay Kids, Company Store Kids, and Pottery Barn Kids, “I still wouldn’t say it’s a crowded market,” Rice says. “It’s a large category. We thought we could join the market because of our loyal buyer file.” HearthSong has nearly 400,000 12-month buyers in its house file.

In addition to its namesake book and the HearthSong catalog, Plow & Hearth produces the Magic Cabin doll catalog. A separate Chicago-based division produces another 1-800-Flowers.com gift catalog, The Popcorn Factory.

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