Catalogs are Delicious for Gourmet Retailers

[responsive]foodcatalogs[/responsive]To those of us that cover this kind of news, it’s no secret that direct mail catalogs are making a comeback. We’ve seen how catalogs can drive huge ROI, and we’ve shared the stories of high end retailers launching print catalogs.

Now the gourmet retail marketplace has noticed, according to industry veteran Marshall Marcovitz, founder of The Chef’s Catalog.

“A blast from the past” is how Marcovitz refers to catalogs in The Gourmet Retailer, and credits the Internet with helping to reinforce the value of direct mail catalogs.

“Have you ever wondered why, when everything is available for sale on your smartphone, catalogs still clutter your mailbox? Catalogs are now playing a crucial creative role in modern e-commerce,” notes Marcovitz. “Today’s mail-order catalog is built for customers, like a store window display, as a source for inspiration, the way strolling through store aisles can be.”

“Catalog marketers hope that shoppers will be attracted to the lavish print spreads and mark pages they like,” Marcovitz continues. “Then the shoppers head online, or to a store, to buy.”

Marcovitz makes an astute observation here, noting that today’s catalogs are no longer a composite listing of everything the company has to offer, but take a more curated approach.

“This has resulted in a different look and feel for catalogs. They are no longer bulky, encyclopedic listings of virtually everything the retailer sells. They have fewer pages, more complete merchandise descriptions and more and larger photos. It’s still a very important part of the marketing mix, but with a different objective – to drive business to the Internet,” he notes.

It’s this curated approach that drives companies like digital retailer Bonobos to launch “lifestyle” catalogs in print.

According to Bonobos’ Craig Elbert, “we’re constantly testing new channels—even ones that may be old to others.” Elbert notes that producing a catalog allows the company to provider a “fuller story” to their customers than they can online, as noted in an article in Crain’s New York.

In a true multi-channel environment, print provides a solid platform for some delicious digital sales.