Beauty Products Retailer Tries Catalogs

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Ulta Salon Cosmetics Fragrance Inc., Romeoville, IL, will venture into catalog selling in November with a test mailing of a 72-page book focusing on Philadelphia and nearby cities.


The catalog, designed by Ambrosi Blackdot, Chicago, will feature prestige fragrances, such as Givenchy and Yves St. Laurent's Opium; personal care appliances, such as blow dryers and curling irons; and cosmetic accessories, such as Bonne Bell Lip Smacker gift sets. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Chicago, will handle printing and mailing. Products ordered through the catalog will be fulfilled at the retailer's distribution center in Romeoville.


Of the 250,000 catalogs being mailed, 200,000 will go to prospective customers in the Philadelphia area to introduce them to the brand prior to the company's planned multiple store openings in that market in 2000. The openings also are mentioned in the pages of the catalog alongside products.


"That's our primary focus right now," said Andrea Rock, database marketing specialist for Ulta, a 9-year-old retail beauty chain. "We want to introduce ourselves to the Philadelphia market. It's more geographic and demographic than mail-order driven." Because of that focus, the strategy does not include mailing to high-response lists such as mail-order buyers.


Ulta's retail stores market cosmetics, fragrances and personal care appliances; its full-service salons offer haircutting and styling, manicures, pedicures, waxing and in some cases, massage and scalp treatments.


The 50,000 catalogs not going to the Phildelphia area will be sent to former members of Ulta's in-store loyalty program, The Ultimate Beauty Club, who have moved recently.


Its goals are nontraditional in terms of circulation and mailing strategy, and the company is willing to shift gears based on initial results. "Going forward, our whole focus may shift because either our response is very good or we learn something about which categories in the book do very well," said Rock. "Because this is our very first test, we're keeping it very simple."


Though the test run has limited and specific goals, it hopes to gain insight that will drive future decisions about whether to expand the catalog effort.
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