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Direct Marketing » Trends, Tips & Facts | 20.11.2014

Printed catalogue is alive and better than ever


It has been questioned whether the day of the printed catalogue is over and we are on the brink of a paperless society. The answer is simple – we are not. The printed catalogue is alive and better than ever.

Everybody knows that consumers are increasingly shopping online, but this does not mean that classic marketing catalogues are incompatible with online shopping.

A 2013 statement from the American postal company PostNet estimates 2-3% growth in the commercial print industry in the US over the next three years – most likely because marketers have seen, how well the catalogues can complement online sales. Similarly, in 2012, two in ten Nordic consumers consulted catalogues before purchasing1.

Print is not dying – it is simply changing

Examples have shown how catalogues – as part of well-orchestrated ‘modern’ multi-channel marketing campaigns – result in ‘sales spikes’ on websites upon the delivery of the catalogues. For the same reason, we have even seen online behemoths, such as Amazon, Zappos and Asos2, publish printed catalogues leading up to the holiday season, because they also know the worth of a quality catalogue. Similarly, Baynote’s 2012 Annual survey of online holiday shopping in the US found that paper catalogues influenced 81.9%. more in-store purchases and 42.9%. more online purchases than Facebook advertising managed3.

Simply put, printed catalogues drive online sales. A 2012 FGI Research study for the American Catalog Mailers Association found that 58% of the more than 800 respondents go through catalogues as soon as they arrive, with 92% admitting to making purchases from the catalogues4.

Off-the-page evolution

Catalogues have an additional advantage in their tactile physical presence. Well-produced catalogues with relevance to the reader often stay in the house for weeks – with non-WiFi-requiring, transportable, and highly flexible properties as well, allowing for the consumers to do with the catalogues exactly as they please.

But with the most recent developments, offline catalogues are more tied to online experiences than ever before. The 2014 IKEA catalogue – the 63rd edition of one of the world’s most important catalogues – has added augmented reality features to its printed product bible. With the download of a 2014 catalogue app, the consumers are allowed access to extra content, images and videos – but most impressively, an augmented reality experience that e.g. lets the user virtually place pieces of furniture from the catalogue into their own homes simply by scanning the catalogue page.

The synergy of printed catalogues and online opportunities we see today shows that catalogues are by no means dead. They have just evolved from the stand-alone, mass-manufactured, non-addressed direct-selling tools they once were.