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Five Reasons Why Catalogs Are Still Cool

Herbert Mines Associates' Senior Associate Caitlin Innes shares her insights on why retail catalogs are here to stay.

As the holiday season is in full swing, many of you will experience an influx in the number of catalogs you receive, making you wonder why this seemingly archaic mode of marketing is still overwhelming your physical mailbox. While many people may think of ‘catalog retailing’ as a thing of the past, the format has recently experienced a resurgence and is evolving in purpose and feel. With an ever-increasing digital approach to the retail experience, brands are using catalogs to capitalize on the ‘digital-backlash’ felt amongst consumers, particularly millennials. Additionally, for many companies, catalogs are still critical for engaging the mature consumer who values physical marketing materials. Beyond the ability to present an aspirational narrative of one’s brand, catalogs afford retailers the opportunity to create truly omni-channel retail approach. At Herbert Mines Associates, we have worked with many of the top retailers, giving us insight into how this sector is evolving to meet the needs of the modern customer:

1. Progressive Engagement

In a marketing landscape where content is king, many catalogs serve as platforms for content-based engagement, providing some of the inspiration and entertainment traditionally found in magazines, while also building a brand. Many progressive catalogs have been increasing production quality by incorporating narrative-driven photospreads, featuring recognizable models and celebrities, and including branded copy beyond the basic product descriptions.

2. Brand Differentiator

Consumers are constantly inundated by advertising and marketing. Every brand is doing digital advertising, most brands are doing print, and many are producing ads for television and online video. In a world where consumers are increasingly acclimated to a barrage of digital media, catalogs can provide a distinct experience for the customer - helping to both engage a mature customer who is more comfortable with a printed catalog and a millennial customer in the midst of a digital backlash - setting brands apart from the pure-play pack.

3. Marketing for Alternative Channel Sales

Catalogs may have decreased in importance as an independent channel, but many retailer catalogs are powerful marketing tools that produce a high-level of engagement and drive sales to other channels. While most consumers no longer “mail-order” their products, receiving a catalog helps stimulate traffic both online and in-stores.

4. Customer Data

Catalogs can serve as an important source of customer data regarding customer demographics and shopping preferences. Combined with web traffic information, catalog-generated data can provide critical intel – specifically, as organizations look to become more omni-channel, this data can provide important leverage for pure-play companies looking to launch stores and brick-and-mortar retailers looking to refine or increase their retail footprints.

5. Inspiration and Entertainment

Dissimilar to online shopping where products are often featured independently, catalogs present the opportunity to showcase a cultivated assortment, building the brand narrative and presenting multiple categories simultaneously. Catalogs often bring a brand to life through vibrant photography, helping create an aspirational and inspirational motivation for the customer.

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