With much talk about the growth of online purchasing and the demise of the traditional catalogue, some wholesalers and dealers have suggested the catalogue has had its day. Not content to react to hearsay, Hamelin Brands decided to conduct some research and found that catalogues are still a very important tool with purchasers of stationery.
Over 55 per cent still use the catalogue as a start point in their purchasing journey, whether they go to order online or over the phone. Also, when looking for new products, 32 per cent of purchasers use the catalogue to do their research. These are high numbers of users and so those dealers that continue to produce catalogues, improving layout and ease of use, may find they have a competitive advantage in the market place.
It’s not only Hamelin that are seeing catalogues as an important selling tool, IKEA print 200m catalogues a year worldwide and still use print as an important part of engaging with consumers. Argos also still prints more than 20m copies of its catalogue every year across two seasonal versions, despite the company’s plans to cut the print run by 50 per cent, as part of a five-year modernisation programme.
John Walden, Argos’ Chief Executive said, “paying attention to customer demand and feedback has shown that the predicted paths and expected patterns in consumer behaviour aren’t always reliable. The unexpected ongoing desire for Argos catalogues perhaps reflects that while we may expect businesses to keep up with change, customers don’t always like to be the ones enforcing the change.”
Where Hamelin found some change in behaviour was in the source of information for promotions and offers, 70 per cent cited email as the primary source of information, so standing out in the Inbox and preventing an automatic delete is the challenge for those trying to cut through.
As the new catalogues are issued in the New Year, it is a good time to remember their importance.