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By Cary Sherburne, Senior WTT Editor
April 20, 2006 -- In a climate of increased focus on multichannel marketing, often at the expense of printing, Hasbro Inc. (NYSE: HAS) has launched its first-ever printed catalog, an ambitious 68-pager that encompasses its many toy and game brands. Customers will be able to purchase toys direct from Hasbro by calling an 800 number or going to the Web, or alternatively, purchase toys and games from retailers carrying the product. Interestingly, just a short time ago, Disney announced it would be discontinuing its catalog.
WhatTheyThink spoke with Ed Kriete, senior vice president of marketing for the Hasbro catalog project, to learn about the strategy behind Hasbro’s foray into print.
WTT: Ed, thanks so much for taking time to speak with us. With many companies cutting back on catalog production, what made you choose a catalog and not e-mail, direct mail or ads with a Web site address?
EK: The catalog has been part of a long-term strategy that we have had. Our strategy has always been multichannel. We have had Web sites since the late 1990s, informational and entertainment oriented. Last year in May, we decided to provide a direct e-commerce channel. Before that, we had provided e-commerce capability in combination with links to retail partners. But we always had a vision that we would eventually add the catalog channel.
Catalogs have been around for a long time. What people have found is that if you do it right, all of your channels—e-commerce, catalogs and direct mail—can work together synergistically to drive overall volume, and that is what we are looking to do. This is not an attempt to take business away from our retail partners. It is incremental and we believe it will drive overall volume; otherwise, why bother? We believe the catalog will have a positive impact both on retail partner stores, as well as our direct sales. Customers can come to our Web site to purchase direct, call the 800 number, or go to a retail store.
WTT: Do you plan on supplementing the catalog with free-standing newspaper inserts?
EK: We have no current plans to do that.
WTT: How did the idea originate, internally or with your advertising agency? How difficult was it to sell the idea internally?
EK: It originated internally. And everyone at Hasbro understood the multichannel strategy. There is a lot of history out there with other major multichannel players, like LL Bean, J. C. Penney, Sharper Image—all of them are multichannel and have demonstrated that when they do a catalog, they see an immediate increase in sales across all channels. Amazon, probably the purest of online retailers, is doing catalogs, and I have even seen an eBay catalog. From my perspective, a catalog can play a vital role in an overall marketing mix, especially for our company.
One of the key aspects of Hasbro is the breadth of our brand portfolio. Some of the familiar brands include Playskool with its Gloworm toy, My Little Pony, Monopoly, Star Wars—these are just a few of the brands that are on our catalog cover. Other familiar brands include Mr. Potato Head, Chutes And Ladders, Candy Land, Clue, Scrabble, Boggle, Connect Four, Easy-Bake Oven, Lite Brite and G.I. Joe. A catalog is the only vehicle that we have by which we can deliver all of those brands and products in a single place. Just imagine trying to squeeze even two products into a 30-second commercial or a Web page. A catalog has a definite role. It is a permanent piece that goes into consumers’ homes. Kids can develop their shopping lists from them.
WTT: Sixty-eight pages is ambitious. Is there a reason you chose to go this route rather than smaller niche catalogs?
EK: We have considered niche catalogs. This is our first catalog. We will be looking at all sorts of different options going forward.
WTT: Who is doing the print production on the catalog? Who is doing the prepress production?
EK: We worked with our agency, Lorel, in developing the catalog. RR Donnelley did the printing and premedia.
WTT: What metrics do you have in place to determine if the catalog initiative is successful for you?
EK: All of the standard ones that everyone else uses—lift on overall sales versus cost, response rates, average order value, etc.
WTT: Thanks for sharing your insight. I am sure our readers will all look forward to receiving the catalog. Is there anything else you would like to add before we close?
EK: Just that we are a fan of catalogs, and hopefully our perspective will help the printing industry.
Prior to launching her consulting practice, Ms. Cary Sherburne was the Vice President of Marketing Communications and Outsourcing Solutions at IKON Office Solutions. In that capacity, she developed and implemented a branding campaign to build brand awareness for IKON in the marketplace as well as enhance employee pride in the organization, and was responsible for all internal and external communications, including trade shows and events, corporate newsletters, and industry and press relations. In the outsourcing role, she set strategic objectives and priorities for IKONs product and services portfolio in its Outsourcing businesses, including development of programs and sales support materials for that environment.
Sherburne was a Director at CAP Ventures, an internationally known firm specializing in market research and strategic consulting for the digital document and print on demand industry, before joining IKON, where she launched and managed the companys Document Outsourcing Consulting Service.
Her tenure in the printing and publishing industry has also included sales and marketing positions at Xerox Corporation, Indigo America and Bitstream. She is a frequent speaker at industry events and a recognized author.
Cary can be reached via email at email@example.com, online at www.sherburneassociates.com and by telephone at 603-430-5463.
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