Can I Still Have a Catalog?

by Kim Tonkovich

Can I Still Have a Catalog?

Especially during a time when shoppers may be feeling a little leery about walking into a brick and mortar store, it's more important than ever for businesses to get creative and explore various marketing channels that can help drive sales.  Since the first use of an ecommerce website in 1982, companies have been flooding the gates to establish an online presence and dominate the Internet.  To now in the 21st century, when our poor little eyes see thousands of digital ads every single day.  So I did a little curious reading to find out if some of you might feel the same way I do, wondering, can I still have a catalog?  And guess what...

Although print catalogs may not inspire many mail orders, they are proven to drive shoppers to pick up their phone or laptop and make their orders online.  According to the Senior Vice President of the Data & Marketing Association, for millennials in particular, print catalogs drive sales better than digital marketing.  A study by the United States Postal Service revealed that catalogs influence buying decisions more than website or television ads, that consumers spend an average of 15.5 minutes looking at them, and they hold onto them for an average of 20.3 days.  Millennials actually like catalogs more than your grandma does.  Even though you can find and purchase anything from a pencil to a home on the Internet, consumers still really like catalogs.

Catalogs are easy to consume, convenient, and relaxing.  They can be picked up any time anywhere, even when the Internet is down.  And they can be dog-eared, written on, circled, and so on.  Studies have even shown that when consumers receive printed catalogs, they actually reduce the stress and anxiety related to receiving bills.  Neuroscience research has found that physical ads (compared to digital ads) trigger activity in the area of the brain responsible for evaluating value and desirability, result in better recall over long periods, and create stronger brand associations and emotional connections.

Can I Still Have a Catalog? Augmented Reality

Today's catalogs can also bridge a connection to your digital platforms.  Using augmented reality, dynamic QR codes, and other technologies in your print marketing can create an interactive experience for your audience that they'll remember.  In 2014, Ikea released a printed catalog with 3D and AR capabilities that allowed customers to virtually see the furniture from the pages in their houses.  In 2018,even Amazon released their first printed catalog, with QR-type codes next to some products that shoppers could scan to be taken directly to that product page on the shopping app.  And innovative professional printing techniques using textures and coatings create a physical experience that also appeals to the senses.

The Harvard Business Review conducted an experiment on response rates with a luxury jewelry e-commerce retailer.  The retailer operates purely online with no brick and mortar stores, and all of their clientele had been obtained through digital platforms.  In the experiment, 5% received neither email nor catalogs for six months, 55% received only a weekly marketing email, and 40% received the weekly email as well as the new print catalog twice a month.  Of the customers that received both the catalog and email, sales increased by 49% and inquiries increased by 125%.  Compared to the email only group that saw only a 28% increase in sales and a 77% increase in inquiries.  And when customers were surveyed, they found that over 90% of those that received the print catalog actually browsed through it and kept it for an average of 7 days.  While the open rate for the email campaign was only 26%.

Printing high-quality catalogs isn't cheap.  And there's also the cost of mailing lists, labeling, and postage.  However, considering their effectiveness, it's often very well worth the expense.  The Vice President of Marketing for Bonobos, a popular men's clothing retailer, found that 20% of their first-time website customers place their orders after having received a catalog, and they spend 1.5 times more than customers that didn't get one.  In fact, from 2004 to 2018, response rates from catalogs increased by 170%.  According to AlixPartners, targeted catalog marketing blows paid digital ads out of the water, generating an average return of $3.00 for ever $1.00 spent, and $9.00 for every $1.00 spent on those sent to top customers.  If you segment and personalize your catalog campaign, you can customize different catalogs highlighting different types of products that target your customers that have shown an interest in those categories in the past.  And with specific mailing dates and use of customer source codes, your return on investment is easier to track.

Mailing a catalog means it shows up in the hands of consumers whether they want it to or not.  Then they have to actively make a choice as to whether they'll take a look at it or throw it away.  When these same consumers are hunting for your product or service online, unless your business is on the first page of results, they probably won't even see you.  Email ads and paid digital ads may be cheaper.  But according to PPC Protect, the average person sees between 6,000 and 10,000 digital ads every single day.  So the odds of your digital ads getting seen are pretty slim.  On the other hand, how many catalogs does the average person receive in the mail each day?  Maybe one or two?  Think about it.

When you decide to get started on your catalog campaign, keep in mind that a creative presentation with vivid product imagery is important.  Especially for luxury products, it helps to create a landscape or a store that elicits an emotion and feels more like an experience or a magazine, rather than just being an index pile of product pages.  The layout and design are very important so here you'll likely need to work with a professional graphic designer.  Consider including some narrative descriptions and customer testimonials as well.

Give us a call or send us an email to schedule a free consultation where we can help you explore your design and printing ideas.

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Can I still have a catalog?

Source3Media provides creative services including brand development, graphic design, product photography, videography, computer generated imagery (CGI), website development, and more.
Source3Media also provides award-winning color matching and custom printing services of your signs, posters, banners, pocket folders, brochures, flyers, manuals, forms, catalogs, disposable menus, and more.

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  • "Why Catalogs Are Making a Comeback"; by Jonathan Z. Zhang; Harvard Business Review; February 11, 2020
  • "Why the Print Catalog is Back in Style"; by Denise Lee Yohn; Harvard Business Review; February 25, 2015
  • "How Many Ads Do We See A Day in 2021?" by Sam Carr; PPC Protect; February 15, 2021
  • "Millennials Are More Interested in Catalogs Than Your Grandmother Is"; by Courtney Reagan; CNBC; September 13, 2018
  • "10 Reasons Why Catalogs Are a Marketing Powerhouse";; March 11, 2021
  • "Not Surprisingly, Amazon's Toy Catalog Is All About Data"; by Kiri Masters;; November 19, 2018
  • "Ecommerce";; March 11, 2021

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