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Catalogs in the Amazon Era: Is Print Obsolete?

french catalogAs online shopping has become the norm, and as targeted search and instant purchase capabilities have made finding the perfect gift a breeze, one would think print catalogs are officially obsolete. Certainly, printed catalogs aren’t as prevalent as they were in the pre-internet days. However, as many glossy fashion and lifestyle magazine titles are thriving in print, so are certain brands using the power of print to present a different type of shopping experience.

Standing out in a digital age

In an age when brands can easily and cost-effectively put their message in front of people who have shown an interest in related products, it’s easy to understand why print catalogs have lost their popularity. But some savvy marketers are learning that print may be the way to capture the eyes of potential customers who haven’t yet been drawn in by digital ads. With the constant bombardment of advertisements on every online page visited, people are becoming desensitized and often barely take note of an ad, much less click on it. Print provides a more tangible experience and a way to stand out in an ocean of online information.

Direct mail printed catalogs can’t be ignored. The recipient has to pick up the piece before deciding what to do with it. Often, this action leads to paging through the catalog and perhaps engaging in the content. Print has also been shown to increase trust.

Print catalogs offer a satisfying tactile experience and typically present a better visualization of the product than a digital screen can. For example, paging through a home décor catalog immerses you in an experience that places the products in context and lets you imagine how they would look in your home.

Leveraging customer data

The ability to finely target prime customers is why digital ads have become the norm. But smart brands are also using customer data with their physical catalogs. Instead of sending out a mass mailing of printed catalogs to potential customers, companies are using the information they have on customers — web browsing behavior and purchase data — to target their most active customers.

“Data-driven outreach is the new sweet spot developed over the last decade,” said Bruce Winder, co-founder of the Retail Advisors Network. “Retailers can now use data from website behavior to target high-value customers.”

A holistic approach

woman reading fashion catalogIf you decide to publish a print catalog, that doesn’t mean you should abandon your online catalog. Your print catalog is best used as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Customer data acquired from online browsing and buying is used to target and personalize print catalog mailings. Print catalogs are used to build brand recognition and loyalty, as well as drive both offline and online sales.

According to a Costco spokesperson, print catalogs are an important sales driver. “When we’ve done tests and not mailed things, we’ve seen a huge impact on sales — the printed piece makes a difference.”

The experts at Sheridan can help you print and distribute an engaging print catalog to a targeted audience. We can also use our digital expertise to integrate your print pieces with your digital presence in a way that enhances both mediums.

Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.

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