A Catalog, You Say?
To avoid that competition, you might consider working with a manufacturer to modify existing merchandise — putting a special cover on an existing book, for example. By modifying existing products, you’re not obligated to pay for creative and manufacturing costs, which already have been borne by the manufacturer. One of the advantages of this type of merchandising is that you can set your own price and not be in competition with general retailers.
New-product development. The last merchandise category is product development, which results in a product that’s available only from your organization. These custom products provide the greatest control over the cost of goods sold, but they also involve the greatest investment. It’s one thing to put your own cover on an existing book, but quite another to publish a new title. Nonetheless, it can be a smart move for a mature merchandising program; it’s not a starting point unless you have a very talented outside consultant.
Susie Boghosian is the director of marketing and strategic planning at the Smithsonian Catalogue. Jinny Fleischman is a Washington, D.C.-based marketing consultant.