Is Losing $100 Million Enough to Make You Change Your Mind?

Daniel Dejan knows he’s got some skin in the game when it comes to his thoughts on print.

“You might expect a paper company to tell you that print is not dead but who wants to argue with The New York Times?” he asks in this LinkedIn post.

Dejan, a self-described evangelist for print and paper, is referring to a New York Times piece written by Rebecca R. Ruiz in 2015 about the revamping of the American catalog. He cites several other bits of evidence of the revival of catalogs as a direct mail powerhouse.

We’ve talked about some of these before, to be sure. Like J.C. Penney going back into print in 2015, after a three-year post-recession hiatus, and seeing sales go up 6% the next quarter.

We see it with big brands – like this year’s Sears holiday book – and with smaller, digital-first brands that are sending holiday catalogs this year.

Why? Are brands just feeling all nostalgic? Hardly. According to Dejan, these brands have plenty of reasons – 100 million reasons, in fact – to print and distribute catalogs.

“According to Bruce Cohen, a retail private equity strategist at Kurt Salmon, retailers now have a better understanding of the catalog’s power to drive sales,” Dejan writes. “The example he cites is Lands’ End. In 2000, Lands’ End reduced the number of catalogs sent to consumers. What Lands’ End experienced was a $100 million drop in sales.”

Yep, $100 million. Was it really because of the catalog? The brand needed to find out.

“Lands’ End worked with their customers to understand what caused the drop in sales via a pop-up survey on their website,” Dejan continues. “What they found was that 75% of customers would look at the catalog before they placed their online or phone order. So, without the catalog they weren’t motivated to go online and buy.”

“Without the catalog, customers weren’t motivated to go online and buy.”

Evidence continues to prove the importance of the print catalog; in fact 86% of women shoppers between 18-30 have purchased something after seeing it in a catalog.

We appreciate Dejan bringing up the Land’s End story again. That number — $100 million in lost sales – speaks for itself.

“So for those who say print is dead, I’d say consider the Lands’ End lesson,” he concludes. “Is losing $100 million in sales enough to change minds? How much is too much to lose?”