New Look Pays Off for Disney Catalog

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Disney's holiday catalogs are performing better this year than last, an improvement attributed to a redesign that included a larger book size and focus on high-end products.

"We are noticing a lift in average order amount and units per order as well as the response rate," said Greg Berglund, who joined Disney Direct Marketing, Glendale, CA, as senior vice president and general manager seven months ago. "They are all up by single digits as a percentage over last year, as we've had a '10 percent-ish' decline in circulation [because of] a reduced mailing to prospects."

Gone are the slim-jim format and the keying of products to copy. This year's holiday books measure 10 1/2 inches by 7 1/2 inches and use heavier paper.

"We've done a complete redesign to bring it more upscale and also to make it cleaner, simpler and easier to shop," Berglund said. "We've got a clean grid that we're following and we're spending a lot more time and energy on art direction. When you have an off-model shot of a garment, you've got to ask, 'How much time did you spend pinning it and making it look just right instead of making it look flat?'"

Disney produced six catalogs for the period leading up to the holidays, including books that carry the theme of key franchises such as Princess, Winnie the Pooh, "Toy Story" and its standard characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. The Winnie the Pooh book is positioned as a Winter Sale book.

"If you look at the Princess catalog, the first seven spreads are extremely girl-oriented, very pink, with playhouses and a dress-up theme while 'Toy Story' is more boy-oriented," he said. "Our strategy allows us to compress the mailing schedule and appeal to customers' different needs. We use the classic holiday pattern of heavy mailings in October and November and there is overlap of product between the catalogs."

Sixty percent to 70 percent of items appearing this year are new, Berglund said, and there is a focus on hard-to-find collectibles as well as the personalization business.

"We've decreased our use of discounting substantially because we want our offering to be valued based on the quality of the product," he said. "Part of moving the catalog upscale has included creating shots that allow consumers to see their children in their room with our merchandise. I am pleased that the improvement in our catalog operations has progressed more quickly than I expected in my seven months."

Berglund said he wants the catalogs to "sit on the coffee table," allowing children to ask their parents for the items in the books.


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