The print catalog market has been slowly recovering following its decline during the recession. As reported in The New York Times, the number of catalogs mailed in 2013 increased to 11.9 billion, 60 percent of what it was in 2007. Many businesses are discovering increasing care in print catalogs has resulted in a boost in online sales. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company Bonobos discovered 20 percent of their new customers place orders after receiving a catalog. Customers who received the catalog also spent 1.5 times longer shopping as opposed to customers who didn’t.
The science behind print catalogs better explains their effectiveness as a marketing tool. As reported by Elizabeth Holmes of The Wall Street Journal, print catalogs deliver a complete brand message. As opposed to catalogs in previous years, which were full of all the products a company offers, modern catalogs aim for more of an on-branded, visually inspirational experience. Patagonia catalogs, for instance, have opted to focus on long-form marketing materials and commissioned essays. Some of their catalogs are themed and have hardly any products featured.
Targeting and versioning, the industry term for making different versions of a catalog for specific customer segments, have become easier thanks to massive amounts of data collected by e-commerce websites. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies can look at frequent visitor data and cross-reference industry databases containing information of millions of households. In doing so, they can send smaller sized catalogs to customers who are more active on the website as a method of multi-channel marketing, inspiring customer loyalty.
The developments and advancements of the print catalog industry have translated to the online catalog market. Dirxion customer Restoration Hardware’s Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman is quoted in the Harvard Business Review saying, “We believe that what we are doing is moving beyond an intellectual connection to an emotional one. We are beginning to express those things we deeply believe in a way you can see it.” Product markets have become more alike and the Internet allows customers to access those products at a faster rate. It’s increasingly more important for a brand to differentiate itself in as many ways as it can. Dirxion online catalogs provide businesses with another avenue in their multi-channel marketing strategy that can meld the visually compelling aspects of a print catalog with the interactive and highly-mobile elements of online content.