Printed Catalogs Gain Popularity
The Direct Marketing Association reported that catalog mailings grew in 2013 for the first time in six years to 11.9 billion, pointing to a potential renewed interest in printed catalogs.
Retailers are now seeing that printed catalogs are a useful branding tool that can increase sales, as a reported 31 percent of shoppers have a catalog with them when making online purchases. Brands such as J. Crew, Williams-Sonoma, Bloomingdales' and Saks Fifth Avenue continue to mail to consumers.
Bonobos, a men's retailer, mailed its first physical catalog in March 2013 in order to describe the brand and products more fully.
JCPenney is bringing back its printed catalog after having an online-only presence for the last five years, the Wall Street Journal reported. The 120-page book, which will be sent to select customers in March, includes items from JCPenney's home department.
The decision to bring back the catalog was made by JCPenney CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman, in an effort to revamp the retailer after a failed overhaul under former Apple Inc.'s Ron Johnson. Coincidentally, it was also Ullman who made the call to end the catalog's publication in 2010, during his first turn as CEO. Ullman said that what they believed were purely online sales were actually made by catalog shoppers using the website to make orders.
The original catalog was launched in 1963 with enthusiastic reception from customers. As the Internet became an increasingly popular medium for retail, mixed with economic downturns, catalogs became increasingly costly to produce and decreasingly popular among consumers. JCPenney's "Big Book" catalog was cut in 2009, and distribution was downsized to 70 smaller catalogs in 2010.
JCPenney plans to mail the catalog by targeting former home shoppers. Ullman was quoted saying that the company wants to bring back "lapsed customers."