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Sundance Targets Upscale City Dwellers

Sundance Catalog Co., Salt Lake City, is betting museum-quality showcasing will set its new upscale Special Edition apart from the pack and give it the extra flair needed to help reach its affluent, urban catalog customers. The catalog features exclusive, high-ticket items, including a Mulholland Brothers leather club chair, scrap metal sculptures, a one-of-a-kind curio cabinet, Berkshire glass and Native American handcrafted jewelry.

The 64-page book of its signature America West-inspired artifacts, inscribed with a personal message from celebrity owner and founder Robert Redford on its cover, offers unique and, in many cases, handcrafted gifts, jewelry, home décor items, leather goods and artwork designed by artists from around the country in sumptuously-designed pages laid out and numbered in a museum-exhibit style.

Special Edition, which mails to a targeted list of 400,000 of Sundance’s top customers and 100,000 prospects, is the second new catalog from Sundance this year and its fourth overall. Two months ago, Rural Route 3 debuted, a women’s casual apparel and accessories catalog that also reflects the cataloger’s Western flavor. The ten-year-old company specializes in serving up an eclectic product line with that Western flavor to many of its mail-order customers in metropolitan cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

The new catalogs grew out of a desire to begin to target specific segments of the Sundance database, and in the case of the apparel title, to expand it and capture younger customers as well. “Our thought is not to inundate our customers with more product, but we’re realizing as the company grows that we’re starting to appeal to different markets within our database,” said Matey Erdos, marketing director for Sundance. “We’re trying to appeal more directly those segments with specialized offerings.” The female customer base Sundance is cultivating for Rural Route 3, she said, is more youthful – 35 to 45 years old – than Sundance’s average customer, who is on average 50 to 55 years old.

The commitment to expanding the customer base bears out in its mailing strategy. The second Rural Route 3 catalog mailing, its Holiday 1999 issue, mailed earlier this month primarily to prospects. An overwhelming number – 75 percent – of the 700,000 customers who received it were prospects via AZ Marketing and Mokyrnski & Associates, its list brokers, as well as the Abacus cooperative catalog database. “I’m very open to testing, so I can learn what works and what doesn’t work,” said Erdos. “And we used Abacus to identify prospects within and outside of our database.”

The core Sundance catalog offers a broader collection of home décor, apparel, and specialty merchandise than Special Edition, which focuses on more handcrafted and limited edition products created by artists from Brooklyn to Santa Fe. Price points for Special Edition overall are higher than the core catalog merchandise, but include everything from a set of 10″ ivory taper candles for $13.50 to a $4,200 curio cabinet. Unlike the other Sundance catalogs, which have multiple mailings in the course of a year, Special Edition will mail only once a year. “It’s a holiday-driven book,” said Erdos.

All four catalogs, including its jewelry-specific catalog, are designed inhouse; printing and distribution is handled by R. R. Donnelly, Lancaster, PA.

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