Posted on April 30, 2019 · Posted in Business, Catalog Marketing, Marketing

Retail merchants love gatherers.

Image of catalog and shopping carts

“Honey, I stopped at Costco to get paper towels, but they had a huge discount on big screen TVs. I hope you like it.”

If you are a Costco shopper, you know the routine: You walk in ready to save 20% on what you need. You leave with 20% more than you planned—but that you want. You can’t help your “gatherer instinct.”

The same is true with catalog shopping. Particularly when the catalog is properly targeted to your lifestyle, includes an attractive offer, and draws you in with convincing copy. You page through to find items you might need, with the same tactile experience from reading a magazine or newspaper.

You may be on a discovery mission, much like your last travel adventure. Along the way you find the items you need, plus others you want—that strike your fancy—and decide if today is the day to feed your gatherer instinct.

This shopping scenario is not fantasy; it is documented in industry journals, including Total Retail:

“Typically . . . average order size from a print catalog is approximately 10% to 20% higher compared to web-generated orders.”

Importantly, savvy marketers will appreciate the caveats attached in the paragraph above:

  • Properly targeted
  • An attractive offer
  • Convincing copy

All three elements are necessary for success.

Through the early days of marketing, the comic sales pitch/refrain that circulated went something like this: “We offer great selection, lowest cost, and highest quality. You get to pick two of the three.”

Then along came Amazon, which for many years delivered on all three promises—though more recently, the “lowest cost” part of that formula gets compromised. But even with their highly touted recommendation engine, Amazon does not induce the “gatherer” customer experience.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of catalog mailings have been greatly exaggerated. WiseGuys Marketing serves multiple clients with strong response to both customer and prospect mailings (although the latter is admittedly not for the faint of heart).

Moreover, business-to-business catalog mailings remain very viable. This is particularly true among wholesale distributors, where the shelf life of a catalog may last for months. One client expressed that “mailing our catalog shows our customers that we remain a strong player, while our competitors are not.”

The takeaway: Keep catalog promotions as a part of your marketing mix. And don’t forget those gatherers—in many cases, they outshop the point-and-click hunters almost every time.

Bruce Gregoire is founder and CEO of WiseGuys Marketing, based in Falls Church, VA. In addition, Bruce is a guest speaker on CRM in the graduate marketing department of the Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University. If you’d like to talk more about CRM or WiseGuys—or how WiseGuys can help your campaign staff boost their sales—Bruce can be reached at (703) 941-8109.