Redesign Realigns Norm Thompson With Its Audience

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A focus on gift items and branding the packaging are two of the latest changes at Norm Thompson as the cataloger continues to work with Girvin Inc. on redesign efforts that have contributed to 12 percent to 15 percent annual sales increases since they began two years ago.


The book that arrived in homes this month mentions "159 gifts under $50!" on the cover to remind people that the company offers more than clothing.


The goal, said Stephen Pannone, creative director at Seattle-based Girvin, was to "say we have gift items along with apparel and to say don't forget about us in the gift-giving season."


Girvin also worked to improve product packaging with Norm Thompson, a catalog brand owned by Norm Thompson Outfitters, Hillsboro, OR.


"They were just putting it in a package with the order form and the product," Pannone said. "They have since gone to using an attractive package, understanding that packaging and presentation are important regarding the entire experience. There is a lot more effort to signal that a package is from them. Previously, there was no branding of Norm Thompson. Now they use a craft box that brands the item rather than having it branded by the service that delivers it."


Pannone also said that his company is working to improve the book's communication based on the season.


"They do very well in the fall and winter, and we're trying to fine-tune the spring and the summer, and that involves the merchandise mix, color and layout," he said.


He also discussed the move to create the feel of "an invitation" in the front of the book.


"We suggested last year that on page 3 they feature just one item and maybe accessorize it and make it the hero on that spread," he said. "That one item is a special item in the merchandise mix for a particular book. Every book offers something new.


"They had to take the view that for a specialty item that came from a special place, such as a Peruvian sweater, they could not crowd it onto a page with a half-dozen other items," he said. "It was a huge leap for them, until they saw that a lot of their special items were selling out when they gave them significant real estate on a page."


Becky Jewett, Norm Thompson's president, said the company began working with Girvin in 1999 after realizing that it no longer was reaching its target audience of aging baby boomers.


"What happened was we had an old brand that was complex," she said. "We realized that many different people had different ideas of what the brand meant. [Girvin] helped us articulate all the facets of the brand, [including] the logo, color palate [and the] voice of the copy."


She said the redesign was "a very broad-level strategic rebranding process that focused on our target customer, and it was all-encompassing."


Ann Bradford, creative director/strategic services at Girvin, said the problem was that Norm Thompson's product offerings and message were not aligned with its target audience.


"[The goal was] to expand the appeal within that segment," she said. "They always were profitable, but they felt there was an opportunity to increase profitability. Their executive team was astonished because double-digit increases are fairly uncommon in this category."


Among Girvin's first duties was to rethink the look of the covers.


"The covers were product-focused," Pannone said. "We moved to much more of an emotional storytelling approach and removed products from the cover in an attempt to capture the audience in the first 20 seconds after the catalog is taken from the mailbox."


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