When I was a kid, the highlight of my year was the arrival of the Sears “Wish Book” – the catalog to end all catalogs. I’d eagerly scour the toy section (always at the front) to create my wish list of gifts. Of course, I’d list 15-20 items, knowing that Santa did not have enough space on his sleigh to bring EVERYTHING (that’s what my parents told me), so I wanted to give him a broad selection.
While we mourn the passing of print in some of its forms, catalogs are making a comeback, along with direct mail. Why? Because retailers are discovering that without a catalog, there is less web traffic and online purchasing. Check out this article from CBS News about JC Penney resurrecting its catalog.
In just the last few days, I’ve received a few catalogs, two of which are targeted to me. They are both wine catalogs, most likely being driven by my activity on liquor.com. But it’s shrewd marketing: send to a specific demographic a catalog that is within that person’s field of interest. And with catalogs, I can browse easily, then go to the site to make my purchase. Even though a print catalog may not have all the product in it you find online, it can spur someone to research deeper into the retailer’s site, and perhaps generate a sale.
Another thing is direct mail, and in this case, a piece from one of our local malls. It’s simple, mailed as an EDDM piece. But it also could have been driven by the fact that I purchased a pair of shoes at a store in this mall, and they could have easily farmed that list. It’s well-designed, not cluttered. And it displays a selection of stores that would interest most people who are shopping for fine apparel or unique gifts.
So, do not discount catalogs or direct mail. They can both be very powerful tools in your arsenal.