The Real Driver of Catalog Circulation
The future of omnichannel marketing includes catalogs. Therefore, we're beginning to see an increase in catalog circulation. Here are a few noteworthy quotes from a recent article by Michael Dart and Greg Ellis from Kurt Salmon Consulting:
- "Lands’ End presented a pop-up survey to customers placing orders on its website asking if they had first looked at the catalog. Seventy-five percent of them said ‘yes.’"
- "The power of the printed page — 86 percent of consumers have bought an item after first seeing it in a catalog."
- "Catalogs are effective not only at getting people to spend money compared to online-only customers, but those who use catalogs return more often."
This spring, Lett Direct, Inc., conducted its annual circulation survey that included 100 catalog companies. The results of the survey can be found in the chart below:
Note that 32 percent of the catalog companies surveyed plan to increase circulation this year. This is on top of a 44 percent increase in circulation last year. Approximately 55 percent plan to keep circulation about the same. The number of companies planning to reduce circulation decreased from 17 percent in 2013 to 14 percent this year.
Print catalog circulation is starting to increase for a number of reasons. First, mailing a catalog drives business to the internet. We know that up to 80 percent of all orders placed online were the result of mailing a catalog. Second, the lifetime value (LTV) of a catalog buyer is higher than other channels. For example, if a consumer goes to a search engine for a particular item, they might buy it at the right price, but it doesn't mean they'll buy again. However, if the order originates via a catalog, the consumer is more inclined to make repeat purchases.
The consumer is more of a "shopper" when they order from a catalog vs. an "item buyer" when they purchase online without the aid of a catalog. However, the cost to acquire a new buyer online can be less than acquiring a buyer from a print catalog. That's why LTV becomes so important. It's not about the initial order, but rather the number of orders the customer will generate over time. Catalog businesses cannot survive on one-time purchasers.
Steve Lett graduated from Indiana University in 1970 and immediately began his 50-year career in Direct Marketing; mainly catalogs.
Steve spent the first 25 years of his career in executive level positions at both consumer and business-to-business companies. The next 25 years have been with Lett Direct, Inc., the company Steve founded in early 1995. Lett Direct, Inc., is a catalog and internet consulting firm specializing in circulation planning, plan execution, analysis and digital marketing (Google Premier Partner).
Steve has served on the Ethics Committee of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and on a number of company boards, both public and private. He served on the Board of the ACMA. He has been the subject of two Harvard Business School case studies. He is the author of a book, Strategic Catalog Marketing. Steve is a past Chairman of both the Catalog Council and Business Mail Council of the DMA. He spent a few years teaching Direct Marketing at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
You can contact Steve at email@example.com.