Catalog and Direct Selling: Sell a Concept
Selling items to customers is a craft most direct marketers understand. It’s about selling key benefits with an alluring presentation that resonates with a target audience. But anyone can sell a product. Great direct marketers understand that selling an item, as a part of an overarching merchandise concept, is a critical tool used to engage a customer and eventually create brand loyalty.
What Is a Merchandise Concept?
Simply stated, it’s a collection of products and price points that own a unique brand personality and represent a highly defined need that resonates with a core, target audience. Notice the word “brand.” Your merchandise concept and your brand are two distinct components, but they work hand-in-hand. Owning a unique merchandise concept allows you to create brand differentiation, even when you share competitive space.
For example, catalogers TravelSmith and Territory Ahead share the niche of “clothes fit for travel,” but that’s where the similarity ends. Each of these catalogs understands its unique merchandise concept and how to wrap it in a story geared to a specific—and distinctly different—type of customer. TravelSmith’s concept is all about function—clothes designed for travel comfort that pack small, drip dry and don’t wrinkle. TravelSmith sells this concept by proving it in the creative presentation, “telling” you about these benefits in copy and “showing” you with photo insets, call-outs and captions.
Territory Ahead, on the other hand, sells the concept of travel aspiration. Most likely, many of Territory Ahead’s customers don’t purchase its apparel only for travel, but also for everyday wear. It cleverly presents its merchandise concept by emotionally engaging the reader with stories and pictures of traveling abroad.
While their concepts differ, it’s interesting to note that both catalogs share an interesting presentation style, with each showing its apparel “off-model.” Even with this visual similarity, they convey completely different brand personalities.