The Holiday Season can take on magical properties.
From holiday lights to time off with friends and families to parties and religious celebrations, For marketing, it is a most wonderful time of the year as well, providing a concentrated effort by most brands to grab attention and to drive sales.
This past year, I decided to take advantage of this ‘learning lab’. Despite reports of the death of traditional marketing channels, one constant of the holidays is the retail catalog. For some reason, I have regarded receiving catalogs over the holidays with great fascination – so much so I have ‘threatened’ my wife for a number of years I would collect the catalogs to see how many we received.
So, this year I did just that. From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve I saved every piece of direct mail sent to our house. And, in the process, I “gained” a pile of catalogs 6” high, weighing in at 16.8 pounds.
Beyond the extra bathroom reading, there were three key learnings from this exercise:
1) Everyone is Trying to Keep Up in the Omnichannel Economy
Despite a ‘huge waste of paper’, clearly not all shoppers are glued to their phones and the web simply trying to save a buck. Stores – physical or virtual – that provide stylish merchandising and can keep up with inventory on a real time basis can win in the Omnichannel (note I did not say Digital) Economy. Catalogs, albeit ‘old school’ to some, can help project the brand image retailers want and do so in an immersive manner. But, it is important to ensure content across all channels is consistent and takes the context of each channel into account.
2) Brands are Hungry to Create Experiences for Shoppers
Almost all retailers, no matter the product line, seek to create memorable experiences for their shoppers. Be it ‘great user experience’ online or in-store, this is what separates the good from the bad – and will ultimately separate those who remain in business from those who do not. See this article about some who may have faltered with this over the holidays.
3) Focus on ROI is Critical to Marketing Success
So this one may be a naïve assumption on my part, but catalogs can offer positive ROI for those who are smart. The uninterrupted experience of thumbing through something in the mail is very different than coming across a mobile ad on one’s phone. The belief that catalogs still make money – versus 25+ retailers blindly following a historic tactic – is one I hope is true. But despite what retailers did or did not do, it is a good reminder for us all to not follow the pack and make sure your tactics provide ample benefit.
Now, I’m off to the recycling bin with an extra 16.8 pounds.
Best wishes for 2016!