Before the Internet became a household staple, consumers waited anxiously for catalogs from their favorite stores to arrive in the mail to get their at-home shopping fix. Years later, online retailers like Amazon drew those customers away with purported convenience and endless product options. The once-beloved catalogs were down…but they certainly weren’t out.
Between 2004 and 2018, the response rate for physical catalogs increased by 170%, according to the Harvard Business Review. Additionally, the same study revealed that on average, sales increased by 15% as the direct result of a catalog campaign. Even during the peak of the online shopping revolution, consumers still find themselves drawn to experience of reading (and purchasing from) physical catalogs.
#1: Catalogs make products feel “real.”
We all know that consumers have been steadily moving away from in-person shopping in favor of at-home experiences. This often leads them online, and while digital shopping experiences are certainly effective in many industries, it can be difficult for consumers to take an image on a screen and grasp how it will look or function in reality. Small online thumbnails aren’t “vivid” – that is, they don’t make it easy for customers to picture themselves using the product or service. According to many experts, vividness is a key factor in winning over consumers and convincing them to make a purchase.
On the other hand, catalogs are considered extremely vivid. Because catalogs offer images and details of products printed on paper, it instantly makes every item feel more tactile and real. Although consumers are still looking at photographed versions of your products, the sensation of holding the physical catalog in their hands helps give readers the perception that the items are more tangible.
#2: A physical presence is harder to ignore.
With digital channels quickly becoming oversaturated, marketers have just seconds to grab users’ attention before they delete the email, scroll past the social post, or tap to the next Story. Once they’ve moved on, your content has disappeared into the online void, making it difficult for the audience to go back and reference your ad.
Physical catalogs don’t carry this same risk. Once your catalog makes it into the consumer’s home, it will be there to stay for the long haul. According to the USPS, consumers will spend an average of 15.5 minutes reading a catalog and keep them in their house for weeks. The print piece’s imposing physical presence means that it will receive repeat engagements from everyone in the household, as they page through it whenever they notice it sitting on the kitchen counter. While emails are often moved to the trash without ever being opened, catalogs may still be lying around long after they arrive, keeping your brand and products always top-of-mind.
#3: Catalogs increase customer involvement.
In recent years, many companies have started to emphasize the “purchase experience” as a more personal journey for customers, rather than a pragmatic transaction. To win customers, your brand must form better connections with the audience. If you don’t find a way to engage with them, it’s guaranteed that one of your competitors will.
One of the best ways to form a lasting connection is to get the customer more actively involved in their purchase decisions. Creating a physical catalog that you can feel, see, and even smell forces the reader to become an active participant in the experience. Once they feel involved in the purchasing process, it becomes much easier for consumers to convert into loyal repeat customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about how catalogs and other print materials can support your sales initiatives, contact us for a consultation or use your own trusted local printer in your area.