Montgomery Ward fattens catalog for Christmas

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Montgomery Ward celebrates this Christmas with its thickest book since the venerable brand relaunched in fall 2004.
The 148-page holiday catalog dropped in early October and again in early November.
"Generally, the catalog is 116 pages," said David Milgrom, CEO/president at Direct Marketing Services Inc., Chicago. "We have been slowly upping the number of pages of the catalog over the last year. When we included all of the seasonal products, we added 50 pages. It will continue to grow, though the holidays will generally have more pages."
Cataloger Direct Marketing Services acquired the rights to the Montgomery Ward name and revived the business in late 2004. Mr. Milgrom said he relaunched the brand based on customer demand and its strong name.
The catalog is an 8.5-by-11-inch full-color booklet. It offers 3,000 products like holiday décor, home furnishings, small electronics, jewelry and exercise equipment - all big holiday sellers, Mr. Milgrom said.
The covers differ, but the two catalogs are identical inside. The earlier mailing had a more subtle cover with a muted green color and a fireplace decorated with stockings and candles and a host of unwrapped gifts displayed. The November drop was more festive, with brighter lights and more color. It featured a close-up on Santa reclining in an armchair in front of the fireplace and the tree, revising his list of gift ideas. The catalog mailed to former Ward customers and to rented lists.
Eleven Montgomery Ward catalogs were mailed in 2006. The frequency is expected to increase in 2007.
Mr. Milgrom said the catalog drives sales to the telephone and to the site at http://www.wards.com/, and vice versa. The site includes 46,000 products. Montgomery Ward sees about half of its business through the catalog and the rest online.
Besides the catalog to drive traffic to the Web, the retailer also uses e-mail, search and affiliate programs to promote the brand. Weekly e-mails to opt-in customers feature new products, special pricing or free shipping offers.
Other marketing includes an online promotion where consumers can share memories of Montgomery Ward moments at www.wards.com/memories and enter for a chance to win $100 and $500 gift cards. Winners will be announced this week.
In addition to the main site, Montgomery Wards Kids debuted in June at http://www.wardskids.com/.
"E-commerce is complicated because costs are going up for paid search," Mr. Milgrom said. "But we see a lot of opportunity because of the Wards brand that we have. Plus, we've learned how to optimize our site for better natural search rankings."

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