Why Digital Brands are Adding Print Catalogs
The tides have changed for print catalogs. Savvy digital brands and businesses are now using catalogs to form relationships with consumers, ground the digital experience in the physical realm, and generate sales.
Print catalogs are often an inspirational source for customers (think Pottery Barn) and can help brands connect with customers on a deeper level. Catalogs are a form of tactile storytelling, a new way to experience a brand in a digitally-saturated environment.
Lately, many digital brands have discovered that print catalogs can be successfully used for customer acquisition purposes. This will become even more important in 2019 because finding new customers at an acceptable cost is a growing challenge.
Consider the following catalog statistics (Source: Xerox):
In a multi-channel world, 57% of consumers prefer printed catalogs over digital/electronic catalogs
69% of consumers consult a printed catalog before an online purchase
Studies show that recipients view catalogs for an average of 30 minutes
Catalogs influence an average of 2.5 purchases
More than 77% of recipients visit a retail store due to a catalog promotion
But this doesn’t mean that print catalog itself hasn’t had to evolve — or borrow a couple of tricks from its new-found partner-in-sales, digital marketing.
For example, customized offers and personalization have helped print catalog campaigns become extremely effective, targeting consumers most primed to buy.
In a test by European cataloger bonprix, personalized catalog pages (based on customer profiles and past purchases) were sent to customers. A control group received the traditional catalog which featured the regular assortment and was not customized based on prior transactions. The results saw a 500% higher response rate from current customers targeted and 400% higher response rates from those who were previously considered “inactive”. (Source: Xerox)
But is there a way to get highly targeted and convey the value and experience of a brand? Traditional retailers alongside their digital-only, e-commerce-based brands are realizing the answer to that question is the print catalog.
1) Redefining the Catalog “Experience”
While e-commerce certainly has novel tools to aid a customer in their shopping experience, the ultimate goal is to coax a customer towards filling that shopping cart (customized product suggestions via email) and to get them to actually checkout and purchase (think, abandoned cart emails).
There’s a clear stress on transactions over experiences.
But print catalogs, in tandem, help tell the brand story, creating an emotional connection that is at the very heart of consumer psychology. It’s why people buy anything they’re tempted by.
The print catalog today aims to use content to inspire, educate and guide. Product placements are woven into a situational story and are accompanied by stylistic photography and explanatory mini-essays.
Essentially, the catalog experience is rather like a hand-picked, curated selection of items, unraveling more as a story or a documentary than a product detail page.
Digital brands are choosing to add print catalogs because of the way in which buyers can be presented with options, viewing select products as lifestyle choices rather than transactions over a product.
2) Using Print to Align Brand and Communication
Part of a brand’s strategy is its visual design, which includes its fonts, graphics, logos, visual elements, color palettes, typographic placement and even copy.
Now that we’ve established that a print catalog creates an undeniable emotional connection with a buyer towards a brand, we can also see that the print catalog is the “how” of the brand’s “who”.
To hit home this identity and communicate the brand’s values, retailers and e-commerce sites can use print catalogs to subtly but effectively tell the consumer about who they are, how they are to be viewed and who, in turn, the consumer is, by mere association and preference.
An example of this strategy in play has been IKEA. Its focus is always on showing, not telling.
Are you interested in a life that is not just “clutter-free” but beautifully organized? Then you, as a consumer, clearly resound with and share IKEA’s values and viewpoint on life.
Not only do its beautiful catalogs demonstrate their mainstay message — fantastically creative and functional home furnishings — but also set a precedent in place for the brand: Their wordless manuals.