Lands’ End Swim Catalog: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.

List/timing = WTF

I did a bit of head scratching when this came in the mail. I am a regular Lands’ End customer. But I’m a size 1x which puts me in the plus size category. I get the plus size catalog regularly. This catalog does not offer plus sizes. Perhaps they are counting on the magical thinking that kicks in around January 3rd, but with 3 holidays in-between I would call this a swing and a miss. Cruise wear season starts in December so that isn’t too far off. But if you mail to 100 current buyers you need to find 2ish that are going on vacation and want to buy a swim suit before Thanksgiving. That’s tough. In the big Lands’ End marketing arsenal I would have headed for email first. Lands’ End has my email and I haven’t seen boo about getting ready for the cruise season. The next low cost toe in the water before creating a whole catalog would be a cruise wear spread in one of the full catalogs. Nothing, so I have to assume that the full books are not productive for cruise wear pre-thanksgiving. (Oh the warning bells that should have gone off there.) I do have a swank zip code so I’m going to assume there is a geographic ranking at work that might increase the odds of a cruise or tropical vacation, but a whole catalog of cruise wear two weeks before Thanksgiving? Huh. I would have gone with a blow-in in the holiday catalogs tied to a super fun vacation planning section on the website.

Cover = cute with minimum sell


The photo is very nice. Lands’ End does a great job with photography. The cover message is “Dreaming of sunshine. Book the tickets: new swimwear is here! Plus resort-ready apparel, page 34.” Now I am the last person who should cast aspersions on grammar but… not a colon folks. Never mind, here’s the big miss—where’s the benefit? Travel is experiential. If you remember nothing else from this post remember that. Travelers buy because they want to have a great trip. This is not Dolce Gabbana. The new lineup of Lands’ End Swimwear isn’t going to get fashion coverage on E!. There are lots of messages that would have resonated with the more practical and somewhat cost conscious Lands’ End customer. The Slim Suits would be cover worthy. (We girls do like to look slimmer.) The Beach Living suits have a wide array of colors. “Mix and match the perfect look with over 25 gorgeous colors and patterns”, would have gotten my attention. Apparently there is even “Revolutionary swimwear” that targets problem areas. All of these would be stronger than “Book your tickets: new swimwear is here”

Page 2/3 = Ouch my eyes, who’s going on vacation?


Yes the teeny tiny flecks at the bottom left of the images are in fact page references. They are in about 5 point type. They hurt my eyes. The copy reads “Your getaway starts here. Yes, we know it’s winter, but we can’t wait to feel the sand between our toes. We’re so in love with our new 2014 Swimwear Collection, we’ve already stocked our shelves and want ours to be the first on the beach. So we’ve invited you, our best customer, to a special debut. New styles — a new you. What are you waiting for — book the tickets!” Read through that again and count the you’s and the we/our’s. “We love our swimwear so much we want it to be the first on the beach.” Well sign me up for a cruise! God knows I live to make Lands’ End happy. “we can’t wait to feel the sand between our toes.” Am I taking Lands’ End with me? Who is going on vacation here? Travel is experiential, and it is the customer’s experience that matters. It’s about me. Me, me, me, me ME! It’s about how great my vacation will be, it’s about how great I will look. The colors flatter me, the styles flatter me. I will make a splash at the pool. I will be comfortable all day. Me, me, me, me, ME! In case I wasn’t clear, it’s about me, not you, always.

The ugly



I love merchants. They honestly believe that if you just show customers all the great stuff they have developed the floodgates will open and a gazillion sales will roll in. And that’s what creative did on pages 12-13. With no prices, no sku’s and no reason to choose one instead of the other. But wait! The next spread lets customers choose by colors in case the previous spread didn’t make them feel stupid or give them a headache.


See, you can choose the pattern you want and then all the sku info is right there. You just have to match the black and white silhouette at the right to the item that you liked on the previous spread and then find the alpha in 5 point type under the swatch on the left, sorry, you have to flip back, look to the right, and the sku, price and which colors it comes in are right there. Easy as pie. No, no, no, no, NO, HELL NO! You can’t buy from this with any degree of confidence. There is more bad news. That is just the, one from column A, pop quiz for Beach Living. Turn the page and the Swimmates collection has its own styles and colors. If the idea of having all the items, in all the colors, shown in one place so that customers can play and make the perfect suit of their dreams is appealing, the place to do that is online. There could even be an app for that where customers could mix and match with drag and drop ease. They could put together their favorite suit without needing a pen and paper and 15 minutes to figure out which item on the periodic table of swimsuits is right for them. It could be fun and easy, and they could share it on Pinterest.

Catalog Size = small at great expense

Yes, size matters. I’m not a big fan of small catalogs. Unless they meet the slim jim mailing requirements they cost the same as full size catalogs. Catalogs mailed at slim jim size need to be wafer sealed or have a cover flap. The Lands’ End Swim catalog is too wide to mail as a slim jim. There is no mailing pool for small odd size catalogs, so this mailed at top dollar. It cost more to mail a smaller catalog. (Marketers are making their scrunched up squinch faces now.) Size can be a standout feature but it needs to say something. If this is meant to be the perfect size to slip in my purse so I can read it on the train, then say so. Standing out from the rest of the catalogs in the mailbox does get some traction, but little is not as effective as big. L.L. Bean owns the square size catalog but even they only use it for their full catalogs. It isn’t cost efficient for most of their mailings. Little also says sale catalog, this is not a sale catalog.

Am I going to buy a swimsuit? = Good heavens no.

I haven’t gotten my Thanksgiving menu set yet. I still have to clean the house, do the shopping, organize who’s bringing what… it just isn’t a good time to think about vacation.

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Sarah Fletcher President/Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc. Co-Founder Catalog University