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Marketing Tips - Issue 40b

December 7, 2009 Zappos Tries a Printed Catalog



A company that could be the model for Internet retailing success is peddling goods by paper as well as by pixels., the online seller of shoes and other merchandise that was recently acquired by Amazon, is mailing 750,000 copies of a printed catalog to consumers. The catalog, timed for holiday shopping, bears the title Zappos Life and has a fashion and designer focus, offering products like handbags, jewelry, clothing and fragrances in addition to the mainstay, footwear. 


Among the brands featured in the fashion catalog are Cole Haan, Guess, Calvin Klein, Lucky, Stila, True Religion and Stuart Weitzman. They can be bought on the Web site or by calling a toll-free telephone number. (The catalog can also be read at “Different people respond to different media,” said Aaron Magness, director for brand marketing and business development at in Henderson, Nev.


The catalog is the third from Zappos this year; Mr. Magness described the first two as tests. The company is looking at everything from page counts for each issue (48 for this one) to the paper weight.  One lesson is that “our lapsed customers have responded very well” to the catalogs, Mr. Magness said, referring to shoppers who have not bought much lately on


The catalogs are published for Zappos by King Fish Media, which also works for marketers like Bank of America and I.B.M. Although King Fish and declined to discuss costs, a catalog with a circulation of 500,000 to one million could cost $400,000 to $900,000 to print and distribute. So far, an average order from the catalog is more than twice the size of an average order that began on, said Cameron Brown, president at King Fish in Salem, Mass. “When they went online to make the purchase, they didn’t stop there,” he said of catalog shoppers. “If they went online to buy tennis shoes, they’d also buy tennis shorts.”


According to Mr. Magness, Zappos is planning a spring catalog for 2010 and perhaps others with themes like “weddings, in June, or housewares, around Thanksgiving.”


Marketing Tips posts authored by Leslie Goldstein of the USPS.