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*Frederick’s of Hollywood Looks to New Catalog Strategies to Offset Losses

The catalog division of Frederick’s of Hollywood has been hurt the worst since the lingerie marketer went from being publicly- to privately-owned three years ago. The company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, will focus the restructuring of its catalog on updating its creative and getting its house file back on track.

“The division that has had the most problems is the catalog,” said Danielle Savin, vice president of catalog and Internet marketing at Frederick’s since October, soon after president/CEO Terry Patterson was replaced by current CEO Linda LoRe.

First, Frederick’s plans to update the look of the catalog, generating fashion ideas from labels such as Gucci and Versace to modernize its collection of lingerie and women’s clothing, Savin said.

“The book is still very sexy, but we’ve brought it to the 21st century, as far as the makeup and the hair,” she said. “We’ve gone back to the models that our customers love and look for.”

AGA Catalog Marketing & Design, New York, was hired last summer to redesign the catalog’s fall 1999 book. While the new design made Frederick’s more palatable to other catalogers who were previously uninterested in renting from or exchanging names with the cataloger, the failure of the book was because of a lack of testing, Savin said.

“[The previous marketing staff] put a new book out in our weakest season without testing with new models, new photography, and they did not change their prospecting efforts,” said Savin, adding that the book was mailed primarily to non-apparel lists, “which didn’t make sense.”

AGA also designed this year’s spring preview book, which was successful with both prospects and customers, according to Savin.

Frederick’s has taken the design of its catalog back in-house to help control costs. The first of two drops of the fall catalog is slated for Sept. 5 and they will collectively reach 3.5 million mailboxes.

The company also intends to prospect more aggressively to grow its shrinking house file. In 1997, the catalog’s 12-month file consisted of 1 million buyers, and had decreased roughly by half that amount in January of this year, according to Savin.

Before the ownership change, the company had prospected at 48 percent, which it plans to revisit, said Savin. Since the company has become private, that percentage had dropped to 23 percent. A few years ago, Frederick’s catalogs were hitting customers every 12 to 14 days, she said, adding that the company intends to slow that to every four weeks.

List firm Fasano and Associates, Los Angeles, handles brokerage and management for Frederick’s.

Frederick’s intends to relaunch its Web site, which has experienced growth — reportedly Web sales grew to $10 million last year in the fiscal year ending this month — in the next few weeks. The company will make changes online and in its more than 200 retail stores nationwide to reflect the creative changes in its catalog.

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