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Luggage Maker Embarks on Journey With Redesigned Catalog

Hartmann Inc., one of the country's oldest luggage manufacturers, recently introduced a redesigned catalog that is helping the brand travel to new places.

In existence since 1877, Hartmann, Lebanon, TN, makes high-end leather suitcases, briefcases, wallets and other accessories that are sold in upscale department stores and specialty luggage retailers.

For the past five years, the only images the company's catalog featured were sketches of its products. The overall effect was “static,” said Ken Hinman, Hartmann's vice president of sales and marketing.

Realizing the catalog needed sprucing up, Hartmann closed its New York-based marketing department last year, moved the marketing operations to Tennessee and hired ad agency TG Madison, Atlanta, to help reinvent the catalog.

Beautiful location shots as well as lifestyle shots featuring people interacting with Hartmann products are just some of the changes in the new catalog, unveiled in March at the Travel Goods Show in Orlando, FL, along with a new marketing strategy for the company. There are also a few unique still-life images, including one of a formal dining table with a Hartmann bag containing flowers as the centerpiece.

The new catalog “tells a much more impactful story than the previous catalog,” said Hinman, who noted that the new book is “much more about image and fashion.”

To make room for the wealth of photography, page count increased from 26 to 44. The number of SKUs — roughly 390, representing the company's entire line — is the same in both versions.

The front cover of the new book features Hartmann's new tagline, “Where the journey begins.”

The catalog also differs in trim size, which is 9-by-9 inches versus the previous 8 1/2 by 11. Also, retail prices are included for every item for the first time.

“Hartmann's new marketing strategy, including the tagline, infuses the category with an excitement about travel, whether literally or through life, that is currently absent,” Hinman said.

The catalog is being mailed to consumers upon request.

Hartmann's in-house mailing list numbers 10,000 names, collected via Hartmann.com and from customers who called the company requesting a catalog, Hinman said. The company recently began including the catalog in packages when it returns repaired items.

The catalog also is mailing to retailers with countertop displays so customers can pick them up in stores. This lets consumers view the entire Hartmann line since many retailers carry only a limited selection, Hinman said. The entire selection is also available on Hartmann's Web site.

The expected 2005 circulation for the catalog is 150,000, with a second printing planned for August, Hinman said. This represents a slight increase over last year. Hartmann intends to continue building its in-house list and eventually conduct a full-scale mailing. The company plans to start producing two catalogs annually next year.

The brand's target consumer is upscale. Though most are men, Hinman said, the company's female base is growing.

Hartmann's Web site recently celebrated its first anniversary. Its contribution to overall sales is still very small, but that figure “is growing,” he said. Driving the growth are cost-per-click campaigns and consumers who look for Hartmann online.

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