Catalogues: customers love them shiny and easy to handle

Attractive couple smiling and browsing a catalogue in a car dealershipBy Carole Sarasa, Sierra Delta

For their catalogues, retailers have endless opportunities of style, photographic treatment, size and platform. Creativity and imagination seem to be the only limit, however, consumers have a firm opinion about the kind of catalogue they like. The latest ACRS Omnibus Survey, reports that not only do Australians read their catalogues, they also care about how they look. The survey shows that Australian shoppers value many aspects of a catalogue, including the size, colour, imagery and paper.

The report reveals that customer preferences go to glossy and shiny paper (27 per cent), which challenges the latest trend of retailers moving to matt paper ranges. Equally, the catalogue’s imagery is important to Australian consumers with 47 per cent of the sample preferring a coloured catalogue with many pictures.

Further, a 68 per cent of shoppers declare that the front cover influences their decision to read a catalogue. Particularly, consumers are more likely to pick up and read catalogues if the cover provides content regarding a sales promotion (33 per cent), or if it tells them it includes seasonal content like Christmas recipes or summer fashion (14 per cent).

In terms of preferred type of catalogue, size matters for 67 per cent of shoppers with 30 per cent of them favouring a medium-sized catalogue.

“This report reaffirms that catalogues are a welcome and essential communication channel for shoppers,” commented Kellie Northwood, CEO, Australasian Catalogue Association. “As consumers express what appeals to them in terms of imagery, colouring, size and paper retail marketers can consider these factors in order to influence readership and consequently, purchase.”

Acknowledging their customers’ preferences, retailers like Big W, Bunnings and Officeworks, all big catalogue producers, have moved to offset paper with great success – ensuring brand ownership of this catalogue space is clever marketing.

Not only do appearances matter but also the platform plays a critical role. Roy Morgan’s Single Source Survey (2015-2016) shows that 69 per cent of Australian consumers, across all ages, prefer printed catalogues while only nine per cent prefer digital ones. This shows that despite digitalisation influencing all aspects of everyday life, the physically and tactile in-home relationship shoppers have with catalogues dominates preferences.

This is consistent with ACRS Survey showing that Australian shoppers prefer printed catalogues and flyers because they are easy to read (35 per cent) and more convenient to plan ones’ shopping (21 per cent). Further, shoppers understand specials and product information better in print (26 per cent).

For consumers, information is a key feature of catalogues. With customisation made possible by data-driven marketing and new printing technology, there’s now a growing interest in relevance. Mass produced catalogues can now be personalised to talk to each customer individually, according to their profile and preferences. Studies show that revenues generated on a per-catalogue basis can be three times greater with customised catalogues. More, 62 per cent of customers declare they are willing to trade personal information in exchange for personalised offers.

ACRS reports that catalogues have maintained a strong and steady readership with 72 per cent of Australians reading them for shopping purposes at least sometimes, more, in the next 12 months, 66 per cent of shoppers declare they will have at least the same usage of catalogues, while 17 per cent even intend to increase their usage.

“Australian shoppers consistently rely on catalogues for making purchase decisions,” concluded Northwood. “When making marketing decisions, retailers should consider the strong statistic that suggests 17 per cent of the respondents would increase their catalogue usage over the next 12 months. In such an information rich world, catalogues are a safe place to go, a medium that holds strong and engages customers individually.”

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