Catalog Is Latest Bigwig at Pier 1

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Now that Pier 1 has stopped using celebrities in its advertising, the company has had to devise new ways to grab consumer attention, including a greater emphasis on the catalog marketing channel.


The company mailed 600,000 copies of a second test catalog in mid-March. If all goes well, Pier 1 will mail another 2 million catalogs this fall.


Last summer, Pier 1 chairman/CEO Marvin J. Girouard said that the home decor marketer was looking for ways to energize the business.


"We are developing strategies, both near- and longer-term, designed to drive customer traffic, increase conversion rates and gain market share," Girouard said in a statement issued before the first Pier 1 test catalog went out in September.


The company's sales totaled $1.9 billion in 2004, a 1.6 percent gain over the previous year. However, same-store sales declined 5.8 percent for the year.


Preliminary results from the second test indicate the catalog is a good strategy for driving customer traffic, company spokesperson Misty Otto said.


"Already people are coming into the stores with the catalog saying, 'Where can I order the sofa I see in the catalog?' " Otto said.


The first test catalog went out in Columbus, OH, and Las Vegas. The spring edition mailed to about 100,000 names each in six cities: Columbus, Las Vegas, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.


The 84-page book went to names from an in-house list as well as prospects. The company's target customers are women from their early 20s through their early 50s.


At least 75 percent of the merchandise in the spring catalog is available in Pier 1 stores while the rest can be ordered in-store through a sales associate. Only a limited selection is available at pier1.com.


The catalog's selection reflects what's available in the stores and includes home textiles, furniture, home decor, candles, rugs, stemware and dinnerware.


The catalog also contains many exclusive items priced higher than the average Pier 1 merchandise. The spring book features a handcrafted Timor ottoman made from twisted bark fiber for $225 and a Javanese entertainment center with hand-carved details for $1,000.


These exclusive items reflect a new brand positioning introduced at the same time that Pier 1 mailed the spring catalog and includes offering a broader range of price points than in the past.


"We will continue to offer the value pricing that is very popular with our customer, but we will begin branching into more boutique items that are very unique," Otto said.


The new positioning also emphasizes furniture in an attempt to strengthen the company's position in this category.


Pier 1 hasn't determined whether the catalog will be quarterly or twice a year, Otto said.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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