In a recent ATG study, 78% of consumers said they use catalogs to browse and discover products.  80% of consumers use more than one marketing channel to make purchasing decisions.

The customer demographic is roughly 70% women (50+ married and a homeowner) but don’t rule out men.  Levenger appeals to both men and women.  Robb Report targets both genders.

Sales Spike when Printed Catalogs are Delivered

Why use printed catalogs?  Because they work!  People like printed catalogs, printed postcards, business cards, printed anything.

Why would Nordstrom, Lands End, Harry and David, L.L. Bean, Disney, Godiva, Lego, Mindware, Land’s End, Zappos, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors each distribute millions of catalogs several times a year?  Because catalogs work. And this is why online printers like never run out of customers.

Website sales spike when print catalogs are delivered. Internet Retailer reported a 10.8% increase in sales ($20.43 billion) for all catalog companies.

Michael Kors, fashion brand icon, touts the value of printed catalogs. John Idol, the chairman and CEO of fashion brand Michael Kors Holdings, explained the logic on a conference call today (text via Factset):

We have a very strong catalog business. Many of our competitors have either exited that business or never really went into it in a strong way. We literally send millions of catalogs a year. And we think that’s been a real key push for our consumer.

We can see what it does in terms of our in-store performance when we drop catalogs. We get a very strong spike, we also get a very strong spike to our website.  People keep a catalog or even bring it to the store with them. 

Printed Catalog Advantages

Not Everyone Is Doing It

Email is free.  Inboxes are filled and overflowing with clutter.  Firewalls and spam filters are tightening controls to block the electronic chatter.  Consequently, reaching your target client online becomes increasingly more limited.

Keep your mailing list current and accurate. 

There is an amusing, or not if you were the company or customer involved, story of a women’s athletic clothing company.  Being both feminine and an exerciseaholic, the arrival of a 100 page and a 68 page catalog for athletic clothing from the same company was excellent market targeting.  Except that one catalog was addressed to Jonathan Abrams, a man unknown to me, and the other catalog addressed to my five year old daughter.

Even though printed catalogs do not require permission, your list must be current and accurate in order to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Printed catalogs do not get caught in spam filters – they arrive at homes and offices.

Catalogs are Tactile

Printed media appeals to more of the 5 senses than a flash of a banner ad which annoys you when you are searching for something you urgently desire to find.  Catalogs appeal to your sense of touch, sight, and even smell in the case of certain perfume ads.  Online marketing cannot appeal to the senses in the same way with a quick flash and a few words.  Browse’s Inspiration Blog to view some catalog designs to get you inspired.

Makes for Good Reading/Browsing Material

Curl up by the fireplace and browse through a printed catalog.  Dream about the clothes, jewelry, toys (children’s toys for your children or grandchildren, adult toys like cars, boats, golf clubs or ski equipment), and shop for holiday gifts at your leisure.  Fold the corner of the page, flag it with a sticky note, underline a feature of a product or circle an item to be purchased.  Come back to the catalog; shop at your own pace.  Purchase any time, any place and through any method: mail, telephone, website, or store.  Regardless of how you purchase, a printed catalog drove the sale.

Catalog Innovations

Increase catalog effectiveness by innovating.  The magazine and catalog hybrid, “magalog” is increasing in popularity.  Why?  The magalog incorporates storytelling into a multichannel campaign.  Robb Report is an upscale “global luxury resource” magalog for cars, yachts and airplanes.

“Companies leading the magalog trend and achieving great results are Vera Bradley,, and Avon’s mark, a youth-oriented brand. According to mark Marketing Director Lily DeStefano ‘the magalog is a critical vehicle for marketing mark because their marketing mix must reflect how the Gen Y audience consumes media across platforms.’”

Appealing to multiple target markets requires wise decisions.  PrintPlace offers custom project services.  They are not your grandmother’s Montgomery Ward or Sears catalog printer.  PrintPlace offer current, innovative and custom papers, custom ink and creative layouts to appeal to your target market.

Printed Catalog Benefit Recap

  1.  Catalogs make an emotional connection by tapping into the 5 senses and the imagination.
  2. Content and storytelling build awareness of additional uses in the reader’s life.  Printed catalogs build purchase desire.
  3. Shop at your pace.  Browse, select and purchase in your preferred method.
  4. Boost all sales by delivering a printed catalog
  5. Target new customers and reactivate lapsed customers.
  6. Track and measure the increased ROI with printed catalogs.  Use a catalog code or barcoded coupon to track the increased revenue.  Keep the code in the system.  Consumers hold on to catalogs.