Do catalogs get read? Why great catalog design still stands out!

Forward Thinking SOCIAL Great Catalog

Everyone remembers the childhood joy of poring through catalogs during the Christmas season. When that big, thick “look book” arrived in the mail it was like a peek into Santa’s bag of toys. So many possibilities! We all dog-eared the pages, gazing longingly at all the gift ideas (even for Mom and Dad)!

The age of the catalog may seem to be dwindling. With online shopping presenting limitless options, business owners may find themselves asking—do catalogs get read any more? Is it even worth putting in the effort to catalog design if consumers can visit your website?

The answer is a resounding yes! Catalogs are still relevant. In fact, according to the Data & Marketing Association, it’s Millennials who are really taking an interest in catalogs these days. But it’s not only the younger generation, half of all Americans order from catalogs. In fact, catalogs are one of the most popular, attention-grabbing pieces of mail.

How Catalog Design Gets Your Customers’ Attention

These days, rather than bombarding customers with little catalogs over and over, companies are learning to work smarter, not harder. The focus has shifted toward creating a coffee-table worthy catalog design and using data to target a company’s ideal consumer.

Using Data to Guide Your Catalog Design

Companies that use catalogs are seeing the high value in segmenting their customers: sending catalogs out to loyal customers more frequently, filled with the products they want to order. Businesses improve their response and cut back on waste by sending customers more of what they love. Catalog design is no longer one size fits all.

Catalog designers use targeted data to create specific content that speaks directly to their demographic. For example, a young family with kids may receive a different catalog than a single retiree. It’s all about using data to shape your approach. This means customers receive catalogs filled with products and special offers just for them—that they can’t wait to order!

Catalogs Are A Marketing Channel

Catalogs are a great method for getting your customer’s attention—even if they don’t purchase directly through the catalog. Businesses are discovering catalogs are strong branding tools to build awareness and loyalty, foster ideas, and eventually bring customers to visit a website or a brick-and-mortar store.

Even if customers don’t order directly from the catalog, they use it as research. A beautiful catalog design catches a customer’s eye, showcases products and motivates them to take a deeper look. Many businesses report a spike in online orders when their catalog goes out. Customers use the books to guide their choices.

Catalogs Sell a Lifestyle

Smart companies are learning the value of using the catalog as a look book or style guide. Part of the appeal to young consumers are the beautiful visuals found within a catalog’s pages. This means little catalog printing touches go a long way: using higher-quality cover stock, adding a cover wrap, and using vibrant printing to accentuate and accurately portray colors.

Companies that create artful publications, like Restoration Hardware, report a large portion of their net revenue (45% in Restoration Hardware’s case) coming from the combination of e-commerce and paper catalogs. Customers look through the catalogs not only for purchases, but for style and decorating inspiration. Design, quality and photography matter when it comes to catalogs.

Catalogs Can Be Shared

Perhaps one of the greatest values of a catalog is they’re tangible and tactile. They can be held, read, and shared. B2B catalogs are popular, because in an office, purchase decision often need to pass through several hands before they’re finalized. A catalog gives a visual aid and a method for sharing information about a product during the decision-making process.

Studies show customers often spend more time with physical or paper advertising publications have a greater emotional reaction and remember a product more clearly when they’ve seen it in print. While there are positive effects to both digital and print advertising, the most effective print ads drive digital purchases.

If your company is weighing the merits of a catalog, don’t write them off as obsolete. Catalogs are still a strong way to grab your customers’ attention. Careful attention to catalog design and using targeted data will ensure your catalogs are a strong part of your multichannel marketing plan.