A Small Holiday Trend
This past holiday season, bigger wasn't always better as a slew of smaller format holiday catalogs and gift guides came through the Who's Mailing What! Archiveand many consumers' mailboxes. The petite mailings were mailed by a wide range of marketers that obviously felt good things do come in small packages.
This year's holiday effort from brand-conscious Banana Republic, for example, is a bright yellow book edged in gold (Archive code #910-605111-0411A). The focus is on lavish images of Banana Republic-clad models and tastefully arranged clothing designed to stimulate gift ideas and pairings. Another small-format piece arrived from American Eagle (AE) Outfitters (Archive code #910-172081-0411). Again, the focus is on image and brand. Its foldout pages also feature young, attractive women and men sporting AE's winter gear. Titled "All Sweaters On Sale," the 53/8" x 7" mailer not only touts discounted offers on merchandise, but also features a hip twist to drive business across its online and retail channels: an offer to download 10 free songs with a purchase of $75 dollars or more, or when customers use their AE credit card.
The more direct mail-driven Bose took a copy-heavy approach, with an order form in the center of its slim 53/8" x 83/8" 2004 Holiday Gift Guide (Archive code #343-176902-0411A). GNC features its products in a mini 5" x 7" catalog titled "Live Well Give Well," the pages of which imitate an old leather-bound family photo album (Archive code #346-175657-0411).
Why the shrinking trend? Well, there's the standout factor. Talbots has consistently used smaller catalogs to market Talbots Men's since it introduced the line in 2002. Its holiday effort is a small, foldout direct mail piece designed to drive consumers to its retail locations and online (Archive code #910-171619-0411). According to Betsy Thompson, director of public relations for Talbots, the retailer sees the smaller format as more appropriate for the tighter assortment of the Men's collection. The marketer also used a smaller-than-usual format for its holiday gift book this winter. "We were looking for something that might stand out a little from the other books that we send to our customers," says Thompson. "A smaller format helps us do that. And we were really trying to highlight items in our assortment that make for good holiday gifts."
Gina Valentino, vice president, general manager for marketing consultants J. Schmid & Associates Inc., agrees that smaller catalogs have been more popular over the past two years, and particularly this past holiday season. "To accommodate the number of items merchandised in the [smaller] catalog, a higher page count is needed," notes Valentino. "The catalog is smaller, fatter and more substantial. When the customer picks up the catalog, this unique piece can generate new interest." She notes the format lends itself best to featuring one item at a time. Valentino sites electronics marketers, gift catalogers and apparel marketers as the most likely to use these smaller catalogs successfully.
Thompson describes Talbots Men's direct mail efforts as branding pieces for a still-new and developing business. When choosing what items to focus on, she says the idea is to show the breadth of the assortment. To date, the marketer has been pleased with the performance of its smaller mailing pieces. "The smaller format really does work for the assortment that we have in the Men's line, and we're happy with that," says Thompson.
Standing out, however, is not the only reason to go small. Valentino says that cost is an important driver. As marketers continue to rebound from the economic downturn, saving money is key. "You're not using as much paper for the final piece," she says. And she adds, "if you're within the right aspect ratio for the post office, you could still qualify for letter rate, which is, of course, a lot cheaper than mailing flat."