Catalogue growth continues

The popularity of catalogues in Australia amongst consumers and retailers continues to grow, despite competition from a range of new media, according to catalogue specialist, Salmat.

Ian Jones, executive GM sales at Salmat, said that in today’s time-poor world, unaddressed mail remains a unique proposition, which enables the consumer to engage when and where they want.

Statistics show that catalogue, or unaddressed mail, is still the most influential advertising medium available to retailers today, which may come as a surprise to many as the internet continues its catch-up to other print mediums.

Spend across traditional media has been shown to be in steady decline, however, unaddressed mail has bucked this trend, with a 2009 study by Sweeney Research finding that 25 per cent of retailers are using unaddressed mail more than ever. In addition, 60 per cent of consumers said they were more likely to search their unaddressed mail for deals in the wake of the GFC.

“The ability for someone to consume a catalogue in their own time, to take more time to read it, even to refer back to it, has made it a very popular and well used reference tool,” said Jones. “That is a significant advantage over radio, newspaper and TV, which are ultimately designated spots that are there today and gone tomorrow.”

He said that for retailers, the longevity of campaigns was important and unaddressed mail provided an invaluable reference tool for consumers throughout the duration of a retailers’ marketing campaign.

“A catalogue can provide a lot more information about product and price, giving the consumer the facts they need to be able to make the buying decision more effectively, which is why I think the readership of catalogues and their cut-through amongst consumers is still very high.”

As the leading distributor of catalogues and unaddressed mail in Australia, Salmat says both its small and large clients are still using unaddressed mail to underpin their overall marketing strategy.

“It’s very heavily relied upon by our retailers, and while it continues to underpin marketing strategies it will have a very strong place in the media schedule,” said Jones.

“What we’re seeing, which is fantastic, is that unaddressed mail is now being complemented a lot more by multi-channel strategies. Retailers are making sure that what they are putting in front of consumers is married up with their online strategy.

“This is a good thing for retailers, because it improves the connectivity of the paper catalogue with the consumer by making sure that it’s consistent across all the mediums. This is something we are working closely with our customers to achieve.”

At any one time, Salmat’s reporting platforms are able to view in real time when each individual letterbox distribution is complete, with technology developments allowing the company to keep in touch with drivers, network performance managers and individual catalogue distributors via web-portals, SMS and GPS.

Cost is also a large factor in the popularity of catalogues among retailers. The cost per thousand of advertising in letterboxes is highly competitive, along with the ability to target consumers by areas and demographics.

Salmat allows retailers to ‘plug in’ any customer data for targeting purposes, with catalogue distribution able to reach more than 6 million households in up to two days.

“Our customers are getting smarter in the ways they engage with the consumer, either through more intelligent targeting strategies, or more personalised messaging, in terms of having different versions to cater for different audiences and different geographies.

“I think the blanket approach of one size fits all, even for a catalogue, will disappear, however, as long as catalogues continue to be relevant to the target audience, consumers will engage with the product and retailers will reap the benefits.

While the run up to Christmas has traditionally been one of the most active times in the catalogue industry, Jones says the gap is now closing between other times of the year.

“We used to see massive spikes this time of year in volume and we still get that, but realistically retailers have offers to promote at any time of the year. This Christmas is without doubt the heaviest volume, but it’s not as significant in terms of a major variation compared to what is used to be,” he said.

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