Taking Your Catalogue to the Next Level

It’s more than a list of products, it’s a lifestyle.

If your company markets a premium product, you may want to take a second look at your catalogue and online product pages. You may be missing out on a big opportunity.

Even in a digital age, the catalogue represents an essential marketing tool. A study by ATG found that 78 percent of consumers said they use catalogs to browse and discover products.

Some companies are taking it even further, finding that customers will spend more time with catalogues when they start taking a magazine-like approach and adding a structured program of editorial copy, high-end design and illustration and lifestyle photography.

Online-only retailers, somewhat ironically, are leading the trend in print versions of these magalogues, which work especially well in selling fashion and premium-priced products. Fashion retailer sites like Net-A-Porter, Frank & Oak and Zappos publish glossy magazines. Saks Fifth Avenue recently adopted the look and feel of fashion magazines along with editorial on fashion trends for its men's and women's catalogues.

While these particular examples are all print products, the experience a magazine creates for a reader isn’t limited to print. Retailers are using magazine-style editorial planning, articles and photography as part of a digital publishing programs that integrate with a print program or stand alone.

(As an aside, remember that a digital magazine is more than recreating a print issue online through a flip book; it’s less about the form and more about creating a community or aspirational lifestyle for a certain audience. We’ll explore this topic further in an upcoming post.)

So why are these companies turning to the magalogue approach? Here are just a few of the reasons:

Cuts through the clutter. A well-crafted catalog has a chance to stay out of the rubbish bin and may even make its way to other household members. It’s the same for a well-crafted digital media program that creates an experience online that people will want to return to.

Increases engagement time. Customers will spend more time viewing a magalogue product compared with a catalogue, and a magalogue gives a company a better chance to present its brand in a controlled environment. It helps to make a brand more human and gather a community of fans that identify with the lifestyle the brand presents.

Allows for browsing. A magalogue lets customers discover new products they didn’t know they wanted until they saw it. Compare that to most traditional retail websites that are better suited to finding something you already had in mind.

It’s worth keeping this twist on the traditional catalogue in mind whether you are trying to build a brand or drive sales. You may just find a new approach can win new converts and turn occasional customers into lifelong fans.