Professional Insider/In the Industry
Retailers and publishers are working both sides of the street
Though the business buzz this year has been about melding content with commerce on the Web, the latest spin on joining the two has come through the most traditional channel the old-fashioned medium of print.
Prints Not Dead
Williams-Sonoma, purveyor of high-end culinary equipment and progenitor of Pottery Barn and Hold Everything, has dipped its foot into the publishing business. Its new quarterly magazine, called Taste, offers a look at the lifestyle the retailer hopes will resonate with its customers. It borrows style and substance from such publications as Travel & Leisure, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Metropolitan Home and another retailer/publisher, Martha Stewart Living (Martha Stewart Omnimedia also offers the Martha by Mail catalog and Web shopping at www.marthastewart.com). The Holiday 2000 premier issue offers a how-to on wrapping stylish holiday packages, Mediterranean Hanukkah recipes, a feature on a spa in the Himalayas and reviews of champagnes. Theres not much advertising to be found in the issue, but lets face it, the whole magazine serves as advertising for Williams-Sonoma.
Its a Catalog Too
Meanwhile, In Style magazine has an enthusiastic readership clamoring to wear the clothes and jewelry of their favorite celebrities. In Style has always included details about where to find the leather pants worn by Jennifer Lopez or the earrings worn by Jennifer Aniston. Now its gone one step farther selling the products featured in the magazine in a catalog In Style by Mail. Its a beautifully photographed and produced catalog, featuring pashmina wraps, a Skagen watch, a variety of trendy jewelry, upscale handbags, toys, housewares and clothing.
While you probably cant commission an entire magazine, take a lesson from Williams-Sonoma and In Style. Figure out what kind of lifestyle your customers have or aspire to and use it to sell your merchandise and store. Perhaps you can send a simple newsletter to customers in the spring with tips on throwing a fabulous Fourth of July party or a rundown of interesting trips and activities within a days drive of your town. In the fall, offer gift ideas for hard-to-buy-for business associates, package-wrapping advice and favorite holiday recipes. Band together with other independent retailers such as boutiques, gourmet shops and toy stores to offer a targeted catalog of merchandise to all of your best customers.