December 12, 2011
‘Tis the Season… the November Catalogs that Dazzled and Didn’t

Merchants know ‘tis the season to be filled with wishes and dreams – consumers are wishing for things and merchants are dreaming of profits. November catalogs are key for both.

Our mailbox has been so full this past month – with examples of retailers who got it right with covers that drew in recipients and sparked the phone call, store visit or web sale. And sadly, there were those books that did not motivate any response.

Here are our favorites:

FAO Schwarz

The budding musician dancing along on the floor piano from FAO Schwarz makes us want to follow him into the book.

Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel and Green Mountain send a message of warmth that draws us in as they showcase their products.

White House/Black Market

White House/Black Market flirts with the reader inviting one to open the book and be part of the glamour.

The Land of Nod

And finally, a welcome door from The Land of Nod, inviting me to “Open Before Christmas”, which I do, to find photography and copy which entice me to buy for my children.

Lord and Taylor

Lord and Taylor blends multiple holiday messages into a shining seasonal graphic that is built on traditions and dreams and culminates in joy and love.

Territory Ahead

Territory Ahead takes us over the bridge and into the adventures of their catalog with a very clearly stated offer.

West End

Even the wine bottles at West End are joining in the spirit of the holidays, creatively displaying unique gift ideas.

Other catalogs did not deliver on their promise:

Neiman Marcus



While aspirational brands from Neiman Marcus as well as carefully designed creative covers engage the reader in “The Christmas Book” and “Comfort & Joys”, its “Full of Ideas” catalog misses the mark with a cover concept that does not reflect the brand or the product offers in the book.

Harry & David

Harry & David wants to deliver joy but the cover image is not very appetizing or engaging.

MLB Store

The graphic on MLB presents a confusing image.

J. Crew

J. Crew sends greetings from the Alps on its cover, but does not invite the reader in, reflect the J.Crew brand message or showcase its product offerings.

Entirely Pets

Entirely Pets clearly just did a seasonal cover for their assortment; the book itself is not seasonal.

Bed, Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath& Beyond focuses on the “beyond” with a cluttered cover and lack of flow within.

We at Marketsmith believe that catalogs are still a very important element of a solid multichannel strategy. November is the time to hit hard with your messages and offerings. December catalogs also need to reinforce this message and ramp up the urgency.

See you in December!

Monica C. Smith
CEO and President
Marketsmith, Inc.

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