For retailers wanting to demonstrate product range, reach audiences far and wide, old and young, engage emotionally and trigger strong brand awareness, whilst also retaining control over their messaging, catalogues remain a key sales driver. We’ve seen retailers try to cut their catalogue investment to reduce marketing budgets and suffer the pain at the cash register. It’s not always instantaneously, often it’s six months down the track when the journey to re-connect their brand becomes a long and expensive one.
We know running a product on a front page of a catalogue delivers between 6 and 8% uplift in sales of that product alone, and we know the conversion rate from catalogues is over 60%, nothing to be sneezed at. What we often don’t understand is how to connect the channels together. Television and catalogues leveraged off each other in much the same way digital does. Catalogues provide the foundation, the range, the dialogue which television pushes too with phrases like ‘Catalogue Out Now’, whereas digital is pushed to from the catalogue. Online retailers are the fastest growing catalogue media investor often to provide a physical presence and openly compete with their store-front competitors.
But also, we are hearing from brands more commonly in recent times that they want to ‘own’ their messaging to the market. Something social media and digital struggles with. Whilst we all want to understand the consumer’s voice and engage directly, the digital forum has provided far greater voice to the keyboard warriors than it has to the consumer who is engaged and even most loyal. P&G have gone on record in 2017 stating they have reduced their digital spend by $200M and not a single sale was lost. Unilever have declared consumer trust in social media is at a new low and threatened to pull investment unless Google and Facebook start policing extremist views, fake news, political manipulation, racism, sexism and more. Interesting times, and whilst this could be viewed simply as brands selecting channels that work, I suggest we delve a bit further. What brands are seeking is to control their messaging. Their advertisements appearing next to a Terrorist image does not align with their brand values. A keyboard warrior slamming a brand for a specific, possibly one-off incident in a store, does not reflect the overall service or value that brand is offering to customers.
JD Wetherspoons, UK’s largest pub chain, recently announced no more social or digital advertising. They are now pushing brand messaging through a ‘magalogue’ or custom magazine and a website only. This provides information about their offering, a communication vehicle to develop brand positioning and control, or as they like to put it – ‘no distraction’. This is smart and modern marketing. Maintaining the strengths of two channels and owning their message to market at each touch point. It will be one to watch.
Catalogues have and will continue to hold their position despite marketers moving to new toys on occasion or dappling with budget cuts and ‘change agent’ ideas (we love those). The humble catalogue remains the strongest performer when it comes down to one thing and one thing only – they sell stuff. For that, they’ll forever be in the mix, a retailer’s humble secret, or as I like to suggest, my shiniest tool in the toolbox.