Tealuxe Takes Two With Catalog

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Tealuxe is refining the look of its second print book while maintaining the earthiness of its first catalog.

The tea and tea accessories retailer's Winter 2000 book is expected to roll out in early November. Its inaugural catalog -- which doubled the merchant's sales -- mailed this summer.

"[Tealuxe] didn't want a catalog that was too polished-looking and kept going back to the [first] catalog," said the book's designer, Chris Pinkham, of the Clarke Goward Agency, Boston. "They liked the raw quality that [the first catalog] had."

Pinkham added that he tried to "bring a bit of elegance to it, but not make it too sophisticated-looking, too snobby-looking. So it still has a bit of grittiness to it."

The 4-year-old company also wanted the language in the new book to be less intimidating to the novice tea drinker.

"Our primary objective is educating people on tea," said Diana Rodgers, director of marketing at Tealuxe, Franklin, MA. "We learned from our customers that a lot of them felt really overwhelmed [by the first book]."

The merchant's goals included improving the way the merchandise was organized and cleaning up the book's appearance.

"I found the old catalog to be distracting and hard to read," Pinkham said. Tealuxe eliminated what it thought were unnecessary graphics as part of its effort to make the catalog more readable.

"We wanted to concentrate more on highlighting the tea and our merchandise," Rodgers said.

For example, the new catalog lists teas in single columns, unlike the first book that used two columns.

The cataloger attempts to mimic the atmosphere of its cafes. Tealuxe operates five cafes in the Boston area and opened two new locations in New York this summer. It also branched out with a new store in Providence, RI, this week.

Tealuxe's store locations are listed in both the summer and winter books.

"Most of our customers online, and through the catalog, actually come to us because they know us from our cafes," said Rodgers.

The winter book's cover features a "teatender." The summer book's cover highlighted an iced beverage in the forefront with a couple sharing a pot of tea in the background. The catalog also will offer a free measuring spoon that is promoted on its cover as an incentive for customers to help the marketer track the effectiveness of its prospecting vehicles.

The 6-inch-by-10 1/2-inch winter book is expected to mail to 60,000 prospects as well as to those who requested the catalog in-store or on Tealuxe's 1-year-old Web site. It includes items such as an eight-cup Brown Betty Teapot for $23.50, sets of loose tea storage tins from $24.50 to $29.50, and a Tealuxe travel cup for $7.95.

Print Promotional Services, Boston, printed the book.

The average order size of merchandise bought via the catalog and the Web is $30, which is three to five times greater than the average orders placed in stores, according to Rodgers.

The company tested six mailing lists for the summer book that totaled 60,000 names, but Rodgers declined to name the list broker the company uses. Tealuxe received more orders from its summer book via mail than it had expected, according to Rodgers, who did not provide a ratio of mail-in orders to Web and phone orders.

The company handles fulfillment for its retail, Web and catalog divisions inhouse.

The company also plans to launch a print and e-mail newsletter in an effort to "create a dialogue with our customers [and] reinforce Tealuxe as a local brand, so that people don't see us as this big corporate entity that's just rolling out cafe after cafe," Rodgers said.

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