Consumers of a certain age remember flipping through the big JCPenney catalog, shopping for everything from swimsuits to a couch cover. The monstrous, 1,000 plus glossy page shopping experience offered a multitude of ideas and choices. With the Internet’s popularity and the rise of online shopping, the last few years have seen the catalog go the way of the phonograph.
Or has it?
The catalog has fallen out of favor in the last few years as various companies decided to trim their catalog mailings, or stop them entirely. Retail business resorted to retiring the catalog as a cost cutting measure in some instances and moved their resources to promote online shopping in others.
There is weighty evidence to suggest, however, that writing off the print catalog may have been a little hasty, and that still offering a catalog can bring great rewards in terms of attracting and keeping customers.
Let’s explore five reasons why rumors of the catalog’s demise may be premature.
#1: The Print Catalog Still Packs a Punch
In a survey conducted by Kurt Salmon, a global management consulting firm, a mind blowing 86% of women in the age range of 18 to 30 say they have bought an item after seeing it in a catalog. Powerful evidence like this is one of the reasons retailers are migrating back toward print catalogs as part of their marketing strategy. Catalogs engage the reader and prompt them to begin the buyers journey.
#2: The Print Catalog can Bolster Internet and In-Store Sales
The use of the print catalog has evolved in the past few years. Before, consumers would choose their purchase and phone into a call center to place their order. Now, catalogs serve as the first stop on the buying train, and buyers end up purchasing online on in the store. In the same study as above, of women 18 to 30, 64% who first saw an item in a catalog ended up completing their purchase in the store, and 32% went to the retailers website to buy it. So, when retailers analyze the buying information as a whole, catalogs are increasing business.
#3: The Print Catalog is Effective as a More Targeted Strategy
With stronger databases and a greater knowledge of their buyers, retailers are able to target customers much more effectively than ever. Catalogs are dispatched to buyers who have previously made online or in-store purchases. An example is JCPenney, who recently announced they are reviving a modified version of their catalog for their housewares department. Customers who have bought housewares from the retailer in the past will soon be receiving one of the new catalogs.
Not mailing catalogs to every person on a random list is a more targeted, cost-effective approach that will most likely show successful results.
#4: The Print Catalog Plays Well with Other Marketing Channels
Multichannel marketing is vital to a retailer’s success, and catalogs play well in that arena. Email campaigns, online ads and attractive websites all add an element of branding to the buying experience. The catalog now becomes one more component that leads consumers to that particular brand. Recent results from a catalog mailing campaign by menswear brand Bonobos showed 20% of first-time buyers placed their orders after receiving a catalog, and they spent 1.5 times more than first-time buyers who did not receive a catalog.
#5: The Print Catalog Possesses Priceless Branding Power
Consumers buy from a brand, and the catalog has proved to be a powerful branding tool. It’s estimated 31% of shoppers look through a catalog even when they complete their purchase online. Leafing through a catalog brings a different shopping experience to the customer than simply browsing a website, and this feeling creates customer loyalty. The catalog provides brand recognition and product awareness that is not as readily available on the web. A point that is critical for retailers to remember is the branding across all channels must be consistent, which is why online proofing is necessary in order to maintain brand integrity.
Online proofing can help these brands seamlessly transition from web to mobile to print engagement and ensure it’s a consistent transition. The same markup, comment and feedback cycles that were applied to web creative can be applied to the hard copy and mobile channels, without requiring a separate product or system.
The Print Catalog is Here to Stay
As retailers continue to explore the channels that reach their customers, the balance may switch back and forth from print to online assets to traditional in-store selling. The catalog, however, is most likely here to stay in some capacity. It may be a little smaller and arrive in more targeted mailboxes, but it will remain a major player in profitably marketing to consumers for a long time.
If you want to learn more about how online proofing can help seamlessly transition your creative content through different marketing channels, contact us today.