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NapaStyle's Catalog and New Site Give Consumers a Taste of California

Celebrity chef and TV host Michael Chiarello has launched a catalog and Web site featuring specialty food items inspired by California's Napa Valley.

Approximately 100,000 copies of the NapaStyle catalog, which also includes kitchen tools, were mailed Nov. 17, the same day that NapaStyle.com debuted. Eileen Gordon, vice president of marketing at NapaStyle, St. Helena, CA, said the mailing is a test drop to gauge consumers' reactions to the specialty products. A larger mailing will take place in the spring, and more than 1 million catalogs are expected to drop throughout 2001.

“The holiday [mailing] for us is considered a pretty soft commerce test,” Gordon said. “Our goal with this mailing is to introduce our product line to consumers in metropolitan areas where the television show is available. It's a national mailing, but centered around our media markets.”

Chiarello's cooking show, “Season by Season,” appears on 170 PBS stations.

The catalog features 35 SKUs of NapaStyle branded specialty foods, including various olive oils, sauces, vinaigrettes, spices and chocolates. The book also features gift sets that include items such as grape juice and kitchen tools. Gordon said the catalog's offerings will increase to 150 for the spring edition.

NapaStyle used a combination of its own database of customers and rented lists for the launch. Gordon did not reveal the list companies that were used, but she said the recipients included people who are high-frequency mail-order buyers in food-related categories.

The company has been building a house database during the past nine months. It gathered names from the TV show's Web site, seasonbyseason.com, and from letters sent from viewers to the show.

The catalog's target audience includes people interested in food and wine who are between ages 35 and 55.

Gordon did not provide specifics regarding the catalog's production cost or the rate of return needed to make the test successful. She said the drop was designed primarily to determine what works and what does not. Next year the company plans to conduct smaller tests and determine which lists work best.

The 20-page book features products on the top and bottom of pages, while the center includes cooking tips, recipes and stories describing featured foods or products. The Web site, napastyle.com, is referred to throughout the book as recipients are asked to learn more about the products.

“The products really support the stories, as opposed to products being the only features in the catalog,” Gordon said.

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