The one thing even the most jaded marketer can agree on is that catalogs these days look nothing like their heavyweight doorstop-style volumes of their grandparent’s generation. While we saw them slimming down over the years in part to save production and mailing costs, there’s a larger reason at play.
“Print catalogs are often an inspirational source for customers (think Pottery Barn) and can help brands connect with customers on a deeper level,” explains Tanya H of the Hansel Group. “Catalogs are a form of tactile storytelling, a new way to experience a brand in a digitally-saturated environment.”
And it’s not just for the traditional retail brick and mortar brand, she notes, saying “many digital brands have discovered that print catalogs can be successfully used for customer acquisition purposes. This will become even more important in 2019 because finding new customers at an acceptable cost is a growing challenge.”
- In a multi-channel world, 57% of consumers prefer printed catalogs over digital/electronic catalogs
- 69% of consumers consult a printed catalog before an online purchase
- Studies show that recipients view catalogs for an average of 30 minutes
- Catalogs influence an average of 2.5 purchases
- More than 77% of recipients visit a retail store due to a catalog promotion
And because brands are getting savvier with their customer data, the catalog experience is now more personal and relevant than ever – and that only improves effectiveness.
We’ve talked quite a bit about how catalogs have evolved into brand storytelling vehicles and lifestyle publications, rather than the old product listing. And they are giving brands a new way to tell the consumer about who they are. Tanya cites Ikea as a classic example of this kind of storytelling; we’ve seen plenty of other stellar examples, like the gorgeously rendered Land’s End WorkWear catalog.
Catalogs are absolutely experiencing a renaissance; they are smarter and better looking than ever and are being used in ways far beyond the typical sales tool. They are increasingly being used to tell the brand story in a very real and tangible way. And digital retailers like Wayfair apparently understand this.
Because print cuts through our digital fog, it’s even more enjoyable than ever to pause, dive in and enjoy. So it’s no surprise that Amazon is getting ready to mail their toy catalog for the holiday season.
“The truth is that printed books will never die because we are both visual and kinaesthetic creatures,” Tanya explains. “Precisely because of the throwaway ease of digital marketing collateral, the printed catalog has become a novelty. It’s a clear way for a brand to say, ‘Hey, you mattered enough to us to send you a very curated experience: Our catalog.’”