Professional Jeweler Archive: Canned Catalogs Get Dumped

October 2000

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Canned Catalogs Get Dumped

Technology allows easy customization


My how syndicated catalogs have changed! At one time – even catalog publishers chuckle about it now – jewelers were all presumed to have the same image.

Then, catalogs with a store’s name became such a big deal that many small jewelers gladly distributed them even if they didn’t carry all the jewelry pictured inside.

Now, new printing technology allows more options and greater flexibility, including Internet access to jewelers’ catalogs.

“Three years ago, we went from a base book in which everyone had the same pages – with certain options – to a book in which the jeweler can pick every page,” says Rick Arnemann, president of AB Studios, Nashville, TN, which publishes the 34-year-old Harmon Catalog. “It’s much more labor-intensive, but the market insisted.”

You may choose from over 100 vendors and even specify the prices to be shown, he says. AB Studios and Custom Catalog of Richmond, VA, allow clients to specify the design of front and back covers and to customize space inside.

Showcase Image as Well as Jewelry

“We encourage jewelers to feature not only their merchandise, but also their store, their employees,” says Judy Gray Lince, program director at Custom Catalog. “It’s about building and enhancing their own image, about not appearing canned.” Last year, for example, Custom Catalog created a catalog that included a photo of the client’s formally attired staff toasting customers with champagne flutes.

Retailers also may specify colors to match their store interiors. “Jewelers want to show that which best presents their image,” says Ken Schultz, director of the Harmon Catalog. “If they’re into estate jewelry, for instance, we can insert photographs of their product.”

For publishers, greater opportunity to customize catalogs brings a greater obligation to counsel clients. They advise jewelers to include merchandise at a variety of price points and discourage cramming too many objects on a page. “Less is more,” says Schultz, noting Harmon recently increased the size of its book to permit better and bigger images.

Online Posting

For an additional fee, Harmon and Custom can post clients’ catalogs online, either linked to the retailer’s Web site or as a stand-alone site. At this point, these services are merely a form of advertising; neither company is involved in e-commerce. “It’s an enticement to visit a particular jeweler,” says Schultz, who predicts 60% of Harmon’s clients will use the service this year.

Wasn’t the Internet supposed to make catalogs passé? “Back in the mid-1990s, there was fear that print would go away,” says Harmon’s Arnemann. “In fact, it has grown substantially. I don’t care how good the Internet is, catalogs are not going away because they’re a flexible, durable and cost-effective way to target an audience.”

– by Mark E. Dixon

Braunschweiger Jewelers, with three locations in New Jersey, carries brands offered by the Custom Catalog Service.
Below: Jewelers can select from a variety of brands the Harmon Catalog offers.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications