The Future of Print Catalogs

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With the marketplace moving online, it would seem like the death knell has been sounded for the print catalog. However, studies conducted in various parts of the world show that this is far from the actual state of affairs. Independent studies in the US, UK and Australia have shown that while the number of catalogs being mailed to customers has fallen, the percentage of women who made purchases after seeing the product first in a print catalog is close to 86%.

A well-made print catalog tends to influence purchase decisions more than online catalogs. In fact, even in the target demographic of 18-35 year olds, it was found that they prefer print catalogs to online catalogs.

Advances in print technology today make it easy to customize print catalogs to cater to specific audiences. Technologies such as Variable Data Printing allows marketers to create highly effective catalogs that talk to specific customers and result in higher business.

Furthermore, print technology gives the marketer better control of colors and settings to ensure that the customer sees exactly what the marketer intended. In the online space, the marketer loses control of the message as soon as the online catalog is printed. The reproduction of images and colors is dependent on the ability of the viewer’s PC or phone.

Other studies have shown that customers are comfortable with a hybrid system where they see the product in a print catalog and order the product online. Technologies such as QR codes make it possible for marketers to allow customers to scan the code directly off the page and be directed to an online purchase portal.

So why are printed catalogs still so popular? It may be because browsing a printed catalog is a passive activity, while to browse an online catalog the customer needs to be more engaged.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that it is still a better bet to send out a printed catalog to a customer than to not do it. The returned from printed catalogs is still higher than the cost of printing it and putting it in the hands of your customer.

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