High street retailers and websites in the UK are returning to traditional catalogues and leaflets to grab the attention – and spending power – of shoppers stuck at home during the biggest shopping period of the year.
With most stores closed and a large proportion of people working from home, many have more time to pick up the post and browse through catalogues.
As with all things retro what goes around comes around, ever since the advent of the internet there has always been the doom mongers who say 'print is dead', a lot of folks also said the same thing about physical media.
The demise of HMV and others in the UK and around the world has also been well documented, however!
Physical media is still booming, just ask the guys/gals at 'Music Magpie' who are the biggest number one 3rd party seller on Amazon and eBay around the world.
To a certain extent some of that pre-Covid doom and gloom around printed media is true.
It's a fact that 100+ year old print media and related news publications have found it difficult to commercially survive in today's 'eat all you can' digitally connected, find it for free, tech savvy world.
What we need to remember is that all of those traditional major news organisations, along with other magazine monoliths who are now scratching their heads to understand 'how to survive' in this post advertising apocalyptic world they created, were actually one of the first businesses to set foot (and shoot themselves in it) on the digital equivalent of the 'new world' called the internet.
This is because they already had content, lots of it. They already had the resource and infrastructure for creating, generating and pumping this stuff out so why not just move it onto this 'internet thingy'. And with that initiative the dreaded banner ad was also born, and intrusive advertising overload followed sharply behind it.
The transfer of the 'advertise and promote' mentality on the internet is now killing the 'Golden Goose', it's finally coming home to roost, and the laying of 'Golden Advertising Revenue Eggs' are getting as rare as Rocking Horse shit for many of them.
So I read with delight and intrigue that there are now a number of 'start-ups' who still see the value of printed catalogues and I for one have to applaud them, along with wishing them all the best.
I just hope they also use the medium for something more than just filling the pages with product - something ASOS managed to change back in the day with their magazine format.
The common denominator between the success or otherwise of traditional printed media and their contemporary competitors has always the been the style and quality of journalism, from the 'Red Tops, to the Broad sheets, to the glamorous magazine world of Cosmo, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated and so on.
With the growth of 'free to use' social platforms we've all been given a voice to talk about, and share those passions and interest. For some has this even meant growing some very niche lifestyle businesses by connecting into, and growing their own communities with shared interest.
So now 'Bobby from Sheffield' can tell you how to make your own Knives and Forks (out of your old ones) in the same manner as the big Sheffield manufacturers did in the heyday. Same as 'Jenny from Shetland' can tell you how to make Vintage Outfits out of your old clothes and curtains, or 'Pauline from London' can show you how to make amazing bunches of flowers out of wild ones growing out of local hedges.
Now I don't know about you but I consume an awful lot of different types of content, intrusive ads really piss me off so I'm happy to pay for access to good quality content, this includes Movies, Sport, and of course Music.
If printed catalogs are indeed making a comeback lets hope they do something other than just use 1950's style models, and look to 'entertain' us - after all, unlike a website this is more than a transactional brand experience - isn't it?
As a result more catalogues are dropping on doormats this year as brands try to get an edge on competitors by going beyond digital ads and emails and putting beautifully photographed pictures of products directly in front of potential shoppers. Beth Butterwick, the boss of Jigsaw, said the fashion chain had sent more catalogues this winter after getting a surprisingly strong response to its usual mailouts. “It’s a brilliant way of keeping a brand front of mind during lockdown,” she said. “On average, people will spend three or six minutes on a website but a catalogue or direct mail can lie on a coffee table for a month to six weeks. If there’s something you quite liked you can keep going back.”