In the digital age, print mediums are starting to hurt as more and more commerce moves into the e-market. Magazines, newspapers, and books, have all started making transitions into digital formats, while still trying to survive as best they can in ink and paper format.
Catalogues, a staple for businesses looking to advertise large product lines, have felt the same pressure. As more shoppers have moved to digital markets, making their purchases based off of quick impulse advertising, the bread and butter of Amazon’s one click empire, fewer and fewer shoppers are taking the time to flip through hard catalogues.
After the recession, many retailers cut catalogues. 12 billion were mailed to shoppers in 2013, down 40% from the industry high in 2006 according to the New York based Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Cutting cost on postage and movement to other marketing mediums were major influences on retailers decisions to cut catalogues.
However, some retailers chose to evolve the format rather than abandon it entirely. The Netherlands based furniture giant Ikea moved its catalogue into a digital app in 2010 that allowed customers to pick and choose between products and colors. The app also allowed customers to see how the furniture would appear in their own living space. Over the years, the app has developed into a platform that lets customers share and compare products as well as mix and match pieces to create their own unique piece.
Companies that had their beginnings on the internet have begun experimenting with print catalogues as well. Rather than take Ikea’s route of creating a digital catalogue, online men’s apparel retailer Bonobos began experimenting with a print catalogue in 2013. Bonobos has found that customers who take the time to read the catalogue, as opposed to quickly clicking through the Bonobos website, are more loyal. It also provides an opportunity to pair products and allow pictures to shine in a more physical format.
Innovation by retailers like Bonobos and Ikea shows that the catalogue, and print media as a whole, still have opportunity to thrive in the digital age.