Banana Republic Brings Spring to Work

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Banana Republic knows that even though spring signifies blooming flowers outside, the usual meetings, paperwork and voice mails keep busy professionals inside at their desks, making it difficult to assemble an updated spring wardrobe.

The apparel cataloger mailed its late-spring catalog -- showcasing spring essentials, including umbrellas, for men and women in springy magentas and overcast grays -- in late February to more than 500,000 people nationwide. The catalog, dubbed Late Spring 2000, was mailed in a pink business-like confidential routing envelope and is equipped with eight "must-have" adhesive tabs, which customers can use to mark pages featuring products they are interested in purchasing.

Customers can then leave the rest of the work to an eager retail sales associate. Banana Republic is offering - to the confidential catalog holders only -- admittance to any of its retail stores during extended hours this week. The retailer will post twice the number of salespeople to efficiently help customers accrue the key elements to update their spring wardrobes.

"[The catalog] was sent out to our best customers," said Kim Sobel, senior communications manager at Banana Republic, who would not define who the apparel merchant's best customers are. The marketer sends between 1 million and 1.6 million catalogs per mailing, 12 to 14 times a year.

"We found that a lot of people are kind of stuck in a dilemma … so many companies nowadays are moving away from the more formal work dress code. And a lot of companies have initiated the casual Friday, but people are looking for solutions as to what to wear kind of in between the traditional suit and the khakis and a white T-shirt that most men wear on Fridays," said Sobel. "We wanted to just provide a variety of options for people … and show them the key elements for the modern work world."

The clothing merchant's catalogs are designed, copywritten and produced inhouse.

This is the first time that the retail, mail order and online merchant, which was acquired by Gap Inc. in 1983, has used tabs in its catalog and the first time retail hours are being extended in conjunction with a catalog promotion, even though "we've definitely sent out mailers before, with product and marketing information for customers with incentives" to shop in their retail stores, noted Sobel.

The confidential catalog was promoted via print and outdoor ads and in Banana Republic stores.

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