Offline catalogue marketing – the new channel for online retailers

13-Dec-2016 10:00:00 / by Lara Bonney

Lara Bonney

generic-catalog-stack.pngWhen print dominated, the catalogue was king. Visually stimulating, personalised, targeted and response-orientated, it was a key sales-generating channel. With the rise of digital, online is now dominant. A targeted medium, where success can be gauged instantly, personalised offers dynamically created, campaigns optimised easily and buying simple.

Today there’s an interesting dynamic - pure play retailers adopting catalogue marketing to expand their routes to market. While it’s impossible for multi-channel retailers to ignore online, pure-play businesses are realising they shouldn’t ignore the catalogue.

Any marketing strategy starts with the audience, then the message. Then a plan is built around which channels are needed to reach it. Audiences may be ‘digital-first’ but true multi-channel marketing means you can’t be ‘digital-only’. Online is critical but pure plays are recognising that by ignoring other channels, they are limiting their potential opportunities. US department store chain Nordstrom, for example, discovered that customers who have a multi-channel relationship with its brand spend four times as much than those that don’t.  

Delivering true engagement

Today, catalogues are sophisticated vehicles. They balance creativity with insight and targeting and actually bring a brand to life.

While attention and engagement are key online metrics, a physical catalogue delivers these effectively. It offers a tangible brand experience, drawing people in and telling a story. Layout, size, imagery, paper quality all reflect a brand’s positioning. A catalogue can create an emotional connection, delivering a level of engagement that can’t be replicated by an app or website.  

Catalogues also expose people to new things. While online search directs you to what you want to find, a catalogue can be a true source of discovery, introducing you to things you didn’t know about. 

In a multi-channel environment, a catalogue impacts both online and offline. It bridges multiple channels, driving sales in the channel preferred by the customer. Its overall value in supporting sales prospecting and branding is increasingly recognised. This is leading to a renaissance of the printed catalogue, as more online retailers integrate it into their overall strategy.

If you’re looking to explore the value a catalogue can bring to your business, we’re hosting a complementary Masterclass on this topic on 2nd January. To find out more click here.

Lara Bonney

Written by Lara Bonney

A data pioneer, who has lived and breathed the power of data-driven marketing throughout her career. Managing Director, mother of three, industry speaker and the GDPR go-to person for Abacus Alliance members.