Here’s the Next Generation of Catalog Buyers … and it’s HUGE

Their collective wealth could reach a whopping $24 trillion in the next couple of years, and many brands have been poised to leverage their digitally-native consumer habits. Yet according to Lisa Henthorn in Multi Channel Merchant, the current generation of 21 to 35-year-olds are helping revitalize the new iteration of cataloging.

As we know, these are not your grandfather’s catalogs we’re talking about – or even your dad’s or yours. Today’s catalogs are leveraging technology to make the catalog experience a highly personalized part of the customer journey.

“For example, after a customer orders a pair of hiking boots, order packing software alerts the fulfillment team to include a catalog on hiking-specific equipment in their shipment,” Henthorn explains.

“Taking it one step further: the fulfillment team can also receive alerts to include product samples with their customers’ orders and customized catalogs. For example, the same customer that ordered a pair of hiking boots not only receives a catalog on hiking-specific equipment but also gets a small bottle of foot cream along with their order.”

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action; the inserts we get with our mail order goods are far more relevant than the kind of mass mailing approach we used to see. And according to Henthorn, catalogs are transforming the way marketers leverage customer data, helping them get much better at tracking spending habits and other important information. All of these analytics continue to refine the marketing strategy. 

But why does this younger generation seem to gravitate toward print catalogs? After all, they have the world quite literally at their fingertips all day long. 

Henthorn has a theory – catalogs make it easier for them.

“For those who prefer to browse a print catalog, simple omnichannel innovations like quick codes have made the process of buying online much easier,” Henthorn explains. “Many retailers have adopted four or six-digit codes, applied them to every product in the catalog and indexed these codes for easy online purchasing. Thanks to nimbler, on-demand printing, repeat customers even receive catalogs built to their own unique interests – and warehouse technology can put the right catalogs in the right customers’ hands quickly and seamlessly.”

There are some key traits to understand about this generation of consumers, sometimes called Gen Z or Millenials 2.0  – they value trust and they insist their brands treat them personally. 

If your brand markets to this generation, you have to realize that they don’t distinguish between channels like some older generations do. But they do pay attention longer when reading in print, and catalogs have been proven to drive sales.

This means, according to Henthorn, that print catalogs will grow in popularity. 

“As the Internet continues to provide easy access to more products, print catalogs and their content will grow as means to differentiate brands and sustain customer loyalty. Great brands will look to create a tailored catalog experience for their customers, and technology capabilities in the warehouse can fulfill (pun intended!) this objective.”