Howards Storage World Uses Content-Rich Combo To Drive Sales (Case Study)
This case study looks at how CAS client Howards Storage World changed their marketing strategy from product-centric to content-rich - and the results they achieved.

Howards Storage World is a retail business specialising in storage and home organisation. For over 14 years their annual catalogue played a central role in their marketing and helped them grow to be market leader in the category. 

The hard copy catalogue, with its distinctive 195mm x 195mm or 8" x 8" format, was principally a product and price item. At its peak, over 1 million x 100 page catalogues were distributed via local letterbox drops and in store. 

Cumming Agency produces videos to tie in with catalogue

Through their research and feedback from stores, Howard's management team became increasingly aware of both the consumer and technology trends and changes that were affecting their business. Over the final 3 years or so of the annual catalogue's production, simple product videos were produced by Cumming Agency +Studio (CAS) to tie in with the catalogue and these were linked via QR codes to Howards online offering. 

Around the same time, Howards also produced a stand-alone, quarterly magazine called "inplace". It included editorial content; product usage ideas; advice; and product features. But, unlike the annual catalogue, inplace magazine was also able to send customers a seasonal message that could then be supported by in store merchandising.

The change

The market was changing quickly. Howard's research confirmed their customers were increasingly looking for product information online while at the same time, catalogue demand instore remained steady - yet demand for local area marketing via letterbox drops was decreasing. Howards decided to change the frequency, page count and strategic content of the catalogue and merge it with the content rich format of the "inplace" magazine. With a growing image & copy library on the eshop, it was now possible to let go of an "Annual catalogue" as the eshop was becoming a perpetual catalogue showing a greater range of products than the print catalogue.

Agencies pitch to win the new quarterly publication

To migrate the catalogue to a quarterly publication was a giant leap of faith that was to pay off handsomely for Howards.

After a competitive pitch, CAS was appointed to produce the new quarterly catalogue because, as Cathy Player, Howards Publications Manager said, "They just know how to sell product and create engaging content." 

Working closely with Cathy's team, CAS set about creating a different style of catalogue that put the emphasis on blending product selling with extra information that connects with online content - all featuring quality photography and extra video. The guiding principle was that this "rich" content was to be available for customers to access everywhere; website, blog, social, print, video... everywhere.

The results

Since changing in 2013 to their "content-rich quarterly" format Howards has enjoyed lifts in engagement and sales.

The actual YOY results to date speak for themselves:

- 28% increase in Web visits

- 18% increase in Web page views 

- 24% increase in Web dwell time

all contributing to a 7% increase in group sales.

Now, perhaps more than ever, the quarterly catalogue is an organised way of streamlining logistics, stock levels, promotions, merchandising, staff training and social media activity.

As Cathy Player herself puts it, "Suffice to say, we are very happy with these results and will continue to experiment with pagination and frequency".
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