InStyle Delves Into The Catalog Business

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InStyle, the women's fashion and beauty magazine known for its photo spreads of celebrities on red carpets, has entered the direct response business with the debut of InStyle By Mail and

Six-year-old InStyle magazine, which is owned by Time Inc., New York, hopes its print catalog will generate sales and drive consumers online to make purchases as well as increase the magazine's subscriber base.

The premier InStyle By Mail Holiday Collection 2000-01 catalog, which was designed inhouse, was mailed in late October to 750,000 consumers. Half the recipients were InStyle magazine subscribers. InStyle's circulation base is 1.3 million.

InStyle is using internal services for list brokerage. Ann Acierno, president of, said that while it is not out of the question that InStyle would use external lists for prospecting at some point, the company has no plans to use an outside list broker.

Glenda Shasho Jones, president/CEO of catalog marketing agency Shasho Jones Direct Inc., New York, expects that InStyle's catalog will succeed because of its authority as a fashion and beauty resource for its readers.

"All of their authority comes from showing you celebrities and what celebrities do to demonstrate what's in, what's not in, what's hot, what's not," she said.

However, the question for InStyle By Mail, according to Shasho Jones, is: "How strong will their level of authority be without those celebrity reinforcements?"

The 8-inch-by-8-inch book was re-mailed this month to 150,000 InStyle subscribers who have a history of shopping via catalogs.

While InStyle launched its Web site,, in late October, it intends to be open for e-commerce this spring, around the same time that InStyle produces and mails its second print book. Visitors to the site can currently view the holiday catalog online. Though they can e-mail InStyle to request a catalog, they cannot place catalog requests at the site. Visitors will be able to place catalog requests in the future.

Acierno said InStyle plans to produce three or four catalogs next year while concentrating its efforts on the winter holiday season. The merchandise sold in the holiday catalog is not exclusive to InStyle, and not all of the products sold in the catalog are showcased in the magazine.

"In the future, there will be some crossover with the [merchandise sold in the] magazine," Acierno said, adding that products will be selected for the magazine before they are selected for the catalog. "Where possible, we would purchase things that they've already selected [for the magazine]."

While the 40-page holiday book primarily includes gifts for women -- such as a gold-plated pewter coin bracelet for $125 and a scarlet chemise for $75 -- it also offers gifts for children, including a stuffed turtle beanbag chair for $75 as well as board games and gadgets.

Printing and production of the books are being handled inhouse.

The catalog will be advertised in InStyle and other Time-owned magazines as well as in outside magazines, but Acierno declined to name specific publications. InStyle expects to launch a full-scale ad campaign this spring for its direct response initiative.

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