Product Placement is Key in Catalog Design (1,225 words)
By Lois Boyle
Deciding what goes where in a catalog is the foundation designers use to build a catalog "store." Whether or not designers are involved in the process is not as important as making sure they're provided with a pagination plan that has a structure best suited to customer needs. The art of pagination is no easy task. Fortunately there are guidelines catalogers can use.
A powerful catalog presentation has a strong merchandise concept and leads readers through the book, maximizing the opportunity for multiple purchases. To do this, it's important to first understand how readers process a catalog. Here are a few guidelines:
- While most catalog readers begin reading at the front of the catalog, approximately 30 percent begin at the back. Few begin in the middle.
- The eye typically looks first at the upper, right-hand corner of a catalog spread.
- When readers want service information, they typically look on spread two-to-three, the back cover or inside back cover, or the order form (which they usually expect to find in the center).
- The "hot spots" in a catalog, or the pages most commonly read, are the covers, the front and back spreads, and the pages around the order form (especially if the order form is an insert that creates a natural opening).
Using readability studies as a guide is only half the answer. Equally important is the information provided from your own database. While many catalogers claim to use a square-inch analysis (SQUINCH), few really take advantage of it. A SQUINCH isn't just for merchandisers, or for looking at what worked post-mortem—it also should be used as a powerful tool to help paginate a book based on customer needs.
What is a SQUINCH? Simply put, it's an analysis of a catalog's profitability at the product or category level that allows you to anticipate customer behaviors. The equation takes into account space given (at multiple levels), units sold, margins and advertising costs. The beauty of this spreadsheet is that once the information is set up, you can drill down to many levels. The following lists just a few of these methods and how you can take advantage of the information to paginate your catalog: