Bed Retailer Hopes Catalog Will Increase Intimacy With Customers

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Customers of Select Comfort Corp., Minneapolis, a retailer of beds and bed accessories, now can buy back massagers and CDs with music to help lull them to sleep from their Select Comfort beds. The merchant recently began mailing its premier catalog, the Summer 2000 book.

"You can use the tool [print catalog] after the purchase experience or to complement the purchase experience when someone's making their first sleep-system purchase, or after the fact. So it's a really great opportunity to build a relationship with our current bed owners," said Leonor Lucero, director of catalog marketing at Select Comfort.

The 27-page, full-size catalog was mailed to 725,000 customers and prospects who had inquired about its products either online or in a retail store. The catalog sells bedroom furniture for adults, including beds and mattresses; robes and sleepwear; and pillows and mobiles for children and babies.

The 13-year-old retailer also hopes to use the catalog to announce store openings, Lucero said. Select Comfort owns and operates 334 stores nationwide and sells products in 30 to 40 Bed Bath & Beyond stores.

The company's Web site has been commerce-enabled for about a year with its core products -- mostly beds and pillows. Select Comfort intends to offer 150 additional products -- the full catalog offering -- by year's end. The company sells its core products and some bedding accessories in its bricks-and-mortar stores.

The marketer hopes the catalog will allow it to test whether expanding its product offering in its stores would be lucrative.

"It gives us a lot of opportunity for different merchandise that we don't have the space to showcase in our retail stores," Lucero said.

Select Comfort Corp. lost $8.2 million on $273.8 million in revenue in 1999, compared with a profit of $5.2 million on revenue of $246.3 million the year before. The company also sells products via infomercials, direct mail and direct print advertising.

Greg Booth & Associates, Dallas, designed the book with freelancers. Merchandising was handled by Aesthetics Marketing, San Francisco. The book is peppered with sleep- and dream-related quotes, such as Shakespeare's "We are such stuff/As dreams are made on,/and our little life/Is rounded with a sleep." It also includes copy on what colors are soothing and "five daily reminders" such as, "Lift with your legs (not your back) and hold objects close to your body."

The catalog offers 50 percent off the company's Classic and Elite mattresses.

Quebecor Printing Corp., Hoffman Estates, IL, handles printing for the catalog.

Select Comfort plans to produce a fall book in September and another book next spring. The merchant intends to test with rental lists for the mailing of the fall book but has not named a list broker yet.

There's not much competition in the "sleep-solutions" market, Lucero said. Knights Ltd. Catalog, St. Louis, has been offering a similarly designed catalog called Soft Surrounding, which offers comparable products, since July 1999. The most obvious difference, though, is that Soft Surroundings sells clothing, while Select Comfort sells only sleep and lounge wear. Soft Surroundings does not sell mattresses.

But while "you do have crossover on well-being and relaxation … [Soft Surroundings] is definitely feminine-skewed," Lucero said.

Last month, The Company Store, La Crosse, WI, a division of Hanover Brands Inc., Hanover Direct's business-to-consumer subsidiary, introduced a new catalog that sells more than 1,100 varieties of pillows. The Pillow Source Book offers pillows for the bath and mothers-to-be, and pillows designed to reduce snoring.

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