7 reasons why catalogues work

Brochure picWith more customers retaining printed catalogues in their marketing budget we explore why catalogues still work.

We know that catalogues are one of the oldest and trusted forms of marketing and they remain a powerful communication tool. However, their role is changing and has evolved to perhaps sign posting potential customers to a website to order on line.

Print Power suggests that the shift in role has failed to impact the variety and popularity of the catalogue medium, instead securing its place as an essential part of the multimedia marketing mix. So why do catalogues work, here are print powers 7 reasons:


The advantages of print catalogues is their ease of use, level of trust and accessibility. They’re portable, aspirational and designed to be picked up repeatedly. While the internet has a role to play in any retail operation, catalogues offer a complete brand-in-the-hand, with every product available at a glance. Research in the Nordic countries shows that 38% of consumers look first at products in catalogues before purchasing the product online (E-Commerce in the Nordics, 2011).


The catalogue is a lightweight and readily available source of information, with most questions answered within its pages. Price, look, colour, size, quality, performance, can all be communicated quickly. Research shows that 34% of consumers say catalogues offer a better product overview and make it easier to look through different products (E-Commerce in the Nordics, 2011).
Information about products is now even richer with the use of QR codes and Augmented Reality, which give the consumer the ability to access online content such as videos or interviews, which adds another dimension to the catalogue.

Driving traffic

A digital-to-print strategy does not sound like an obvious strategy, however recently more online shops are starting to use printed catalogues or magalogues. Bringing the brands to a physical space, in order to make people become more active with the brand is often heard. Catalogues will bring readers to the physical or online store, vouchers, QR codes or personalisation of content will facilitate this action.


A catalogue offers an opportunity to draw the customer into the brand’s world, giving them an experience that goes beyond the shop window. Using striking design techniques and distinctive paper, this experience allows the reader to be seduced by the product, making purchase or other action more likely. As you have a significant amount of time with your customer allowing you to strengthening the brand image.
Catalogues are now being produced with editorial content sitting alongside the products, creating the ‘magalogue’ – a combination of the entertainment, education and advertising of magazine content with the information held within catalogues.

Targeting opportunities

The catalogue is just one of the many consumer touch points and should be part of the omni-channel strategy for most retailers. Catalogues work best when their distribution is targeted, their ideal audience defined by a wide range of variables. You can then choose which customers are likely to spend and distribute your catalogue accordingly. Use catalogues, for example, in areas with a lower internet penetration or use. Often this is the case in rural areas or among older people. Database management, targetting, re-targetting and customer tracking is all becoming part and parcel of how brands try to better direct catalogues to potential consumers.

Paper and pixel integration

Often catalogues are seen as a ‘look book’, showing what is available in a physical or virtual store. This type of catalogue will offer inspiration, a more interesting presentation of the various products, models, colour variations or other details or a guide for a store visit. In any case it will offer the possibility for a online purchase. Retailers have understood that, as part of their onmichannel strategy, they need to flawlessly integrate the printed catalogue into their strategy. J.C. Penny for example relaunched the use of catalogues after five years of absence. IKEA uses Augmented Reality in their catalogues to show the functionality of their cupboards and kitchens. And many office products suppliers provide on-the page links to the webshop.


A large number of global brands still regard the catalogue as their premier sales tool. Working with the website, call centre and store, its ability to have its success measured quickly and accurately is a real advantage for the marketing executive. Catalogues combine with the directness and immediacy of online shopping, increasing the effectiveness of both, while tracking purchases via codes printed in the catalogue or other consumer tracking details, increases the sales-per-page figures – information that can be used to optimise the layout of future editions.


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