Your Catalog: Much More Than a Sales Tool

mcm-reportIn a multi-channel environment, that printed catalog has a lot of hats to wear beyond selling your stuff, according to this MCM report.

“As much as things have changed, the more they have stayed the same,” writes Daniela Forte of Multichannel Merchant. “This was certainly the case in the last year with catalogs, according to our MCM Outlook 2016 survey. For many merchants today, the catalog is not only being used for branding, but also as web and mobile traffic drives.”

Forte is referring to MCM’s recent survey analysis that took a deep dive into how catalogs are really used by businesses. The MCM Outlook 2016 Marketing Special Report offers some good stats around cataloging and how well they work to move the needle on other business goals beyond sales.

“Merchants are using the catalog for all sorts of reasons and what they find through extensive research and testing is that it is more than just a sales driving channel; it is a chance for the customer to engage with the brand, allowing the customer to infuse his or her own imagination as they flip through the pages,” she writes.

“According to the survey, merchants said branding ranked 8 out of 10 as purpose of their catalog side… Also, respondents of the survey ranked web driver as an 8.3 out of 10, mobile traffic driver as an 8.2, retention tool an 8.2, and reactivation tool an 8,” she continues.

What catalogers can take away from this research is this: If your catalog is simply a listing of your products, you’re probably doing it wrong. Catalogs in the multi-channel have changed. Today catalogs are more about the brand story, less about the stuff.

As the nature of the beast has changed in recent years, companies realize that beyond driving direct sales, there are several good reasons to use catalogs.

(An interesting side note from the research: More than 70% of survey respondents have a formal program in place to track the effectiveness of their catalogs. And more than 85% of respondents say their page count, circulation and/or frequency stayed the same or increased last year. They are measuring effectiveness, and they are continuing to use them. This tells us that catalogs do indeed work.)

The report contains a lot of interesting statistics and industry benchmarks; well worth a complete read if your company sends (or maybe should send) printed catalogs. There’s a lot more going on in the catalogs of today than ever before, and this channel can have a big impact on your bottom line.