The American retailer has brought back its iconic holiday catalogue, first printed in 1933, after scrapping it for digital in 2011.
Yet in a nod to the powerful combination of print and digital this time the 120-page gift guide will also be available on Sears.com and on the retailer’s app. "Our members told us they missed the Wish Book, so we had to bring it back, but in a special way that lets you share more joy wherever you are," Kelly Cook, chief marketing officer for Sears and Kmart, said.
It follows fellow retailer JC Penney which, in 2015, resurrected its print catalogue after shifting its focus to an online platform five years earlier because their research showed that the company’s print catalogue drove more online sales.
The UK’s Royal Mail concurs. It says that catalogue marketing plays an important role in business growth, thanks to how well catalogues work with the online world. It urges pure-play digital retailers who only advertise online to consider the power of print. “If you’re a digital seller, you may find that regularly issuing print catalogues boosts business in many useful ways,” it advises.
3 ways catalogue marketing creates business growth
The postal service suggests catalogues can create growth in three powerful ways: by increasing the loyalty of current customers; re-engaging with customers who have ‘gone quiet’; reaching new potential customers and increasing average order values.
Improved data analytics and advancements in high-volume digital print technology are amongst the reasons why printed catalogues are experiencing a resurgence, according to HP PageWide’s worldwide director of marketing David Murphy.
“A printed catalogue arrives in your mailbox and beckons you to open it,” he says. “With ad blockers and spam filters, you probably wouldn’t even see an electronic offer to look inside the newest product catalogue.”
Toys R Us and Neiman Marcus are other retailers returning to printed catalogues while in Europe the so-called discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, publish glossy Christmas catalogues to reinforce perceptions of quality and luxury for less.
Print catalogues help drive sales both in store and online by engaging the reader and prompting them to begin the path to purchase. In fact, when retailer Lands’ End tried to save money by scrapping their catalogue they lost an estimated $100m in sales. When they surveyed online customers later they found that three-quarters had looked at the print catalogue before going online.