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BizReport : Trends & Ideas : November 12, 2013

Omnichannel is the future of retailing and it includes print catalogs

Earlier this year two studies demonstrated that print catalogs were far from dead in the digital water. New research from management consulting firm Kurt Salmon reveals that even after a year of mobile and social media onslaught, the print catalog is alive and kicking and being read.

by Helen Leggatt

During the first quarter of 2013, two studies emerged that together emphasized the continuing role of print catalogs in today's digital environment. A survey in the U.S. by Baynote and the E-tailing Group found glossy, branded print catalogs influence shoppers looking to make both on- and offline purchases - more so than social media such as Facebook and Pinterest, or mobile ads.

Another survey, this time by the Australian Catalogue Association and carried out in Q3 2012, found that 70% of consumers prefer print catalogs to online and that just 11% of Australians read catalogs online. Furthermore, two-thirds of younger Australians between the ages of 24-35 prefer print catalogs compared to just 15% who prefer online versions.

"There are great assumptions that the younger generations are more likely to purchase from digital marketing campaigns or online catalogs, however all the global research conducted doesn't support this," said Australian Catalogue Association director Kellie Northwood. "People retain messaging and engage more intimately with paper-based communications - catalogs are no different."

Results of a new study from global management consulting firm Kurt Salmon do show that the number of catalogs being mailed in the U.S. is dropping. The Direct Marketing Association's latest figures show the numbers mailed last year were the lowest since they began tracking in 2001, dropping to 11.8 billion from a high of 19.6 billion in 2007.

However, printed catalogs continue to hold the power to persuade. A healthy 86% of women have made a purchase having first seen a product in a printed catalog. Furthermore, over half of all those involved in the Kurt Salmon study (58%), continue to use catalogs to discover ideas and almost a third (31%) have a printed copy of a catalog in their hand while making an online purchase.

And, as well proving a powerful tool in the decision-making process, catalogs were also found to raise the average order value.

"Our research has found that the average order size made by customers online is approximately 6% lower than orders placed directly through call centers using catalogs," says Kurt Salmon on their website. "For example, during one calendar-year period, we observed that Internet-only customers of one specialty retailer placed orders of $80 on average, whereas call center/catalog customers' average orders totaled approximately $90. Customers who utilized both channels saw their average orders climb even further, to more than $92."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: print catalogs, research, U.S.

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