Boon for heatset as catalogues supersizing

The country’s web printers are pumping out thicker catalogues as retailers add more detailed lifestyle content to reach the more than 10 million Australians who read them.

Australian Catalogue Association (ACA) executive director Kellie Northwood says brands are increasingly including editorial content like how-to instructions and style guides in addition to product promotions and specials.

“The strongest shift in catalogue trends this year is increasing page numbers and higher quality content as brands are using the effectiveness and popularity to lift their bands,” she says.

“A furniture shop might include a feature on how to decorate your house or a hardware store explaining how to use a product.”

[Related: More catalogue news]

The trend, which Northwood says follows overseas patterns, comes as new Roy Morgan research indicates 53 per cent of Australians read catalogues at least once a week and 56 per cent of those buy something they see in one.

Northwood says catalogues are so effective at driving purchases because they form an emotional connection between the reader and the brand.

“Catalogues have a lot of engaging triggers to readers connect with, and as a result spend 25 to 30 minutes reading them. People don’t spend that much time on something they don’t enjoy,” she says.

“They are easy to use and because they come direct to consumers’ letterboxes they are easily accessible, which is one of the hardest things in marketing.”

Franklin Web chief executive Phil Taylor says while the number of catalogues his company produces is stable, page numbers have jumped significantly in the past year – with some 48-page issues growing to 56 or even 72 pages.

“Catalogues continue to be a potent marketing tool for brands and a great driver of customers into stores across all age groups,” he says.

“They are the retail marketing tool of choice for many companies that have told me sales can go up 40 per cent after a catalogue hits the streets.

“In a world where people can access hundreds of magazines and newspapers and millions of websites, they still only have one letterbox. What could be a better way to get one-to-one communication going with your customers?”

IPMG print chief executive Craig Dunsford says clients understand the value in catalogues and their impact on driving a decision to purchase.

“We are seeing growth in paginations, focus on creative options and local area marketing. The catalogue channel is one of many available to our clients but the feedback we get is that catalogues remain one of the strongest,” he says.

“Rather than replacing catalogues, we are seeing other channels working in conjunction with catalogues to increase the connections our clients have with consumers and to increase purchasing activity.”

The Roy Morgan survey shows supermarket catalogues are by far the best at driving sales, with 41 per cent of Australians reading one each week and 58 per cent buying something from them, followed by 36 per cent for chemists, 33 per cent for liquor stores, and 31 per cent for department stores.

This is especially good news for PMP, which has the Woolworths and Dan Murphy’s contracts, and IPMG with Coles, Aldi, Vintage Cellars, David Jones, and Myer. Franklin Web has Super Retail Group and Kmart.

Roy Morgan media general manager Tim Martin says catalogues are enabling advertisers to reach consumers who are in buying mode, on the look-out for new products or in the market for good deals.

“Catalogues are information rich, they inform and really do enable those shoppers who are ready to buy in store, via the phone, or online,” he says.

“The impact of catalogue readership is immediate, with increased sales activity (in store, phone and online) being the key measure of the advertiser’s return on investment.”

The 2013-14 ACA annual report says the catalogue advertising market is worth almost $1.5b and rebounded $200m last financial year from a series of shrinking results since 2010.

Some 62 per cent of consumers rank catalogues as the most effective advertising channel, while markers have it at number four behind email, TV and direct mail.

The report also says 94 per cent of buyers talked to someone about something in a catalogue, 63 per cent go into a store, and 62 per cent visit the advertiser’s website. It says a campaign is 66 per cent more effective if it includes a catalogue component.

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