Catalog Trends 2021

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Despite the fervor around email and social media marketing, there lingers a reliable staple that marketers are rediscovering – catalogs. The modern idea of a catalog has been around since 1872 with Montgomery Ward’s first mass printing of its mail-order catalog. Since this marketing channel has evolved considerably in the past 148 years, let’s look at a few of today’s trends in catalogs as we approach 2021.

Create an Experience

One of the biggest selling points of catalogs is that they provide a tactile experience for consumers. Unlike the frenetic click-click-click of online shopping, catalog readers tend to slow down and savor the moment. The time spent viewing a catalog is around 15.5 minutes, and they have a shelf life of several weeks. On the other hand, an email is only scanned for about an average of 13.4 seconds before it’s forgotten in the recesses of our inboxes or sent to the trash bins forever. Catalogs have been continuously rising in popularity since 2015, with consumers response increasing 170% between 2014 and 2018, and retailers are noticing.

Develop a Theme

Creating a narrative or theme gives the consumer an immersive feeling. This effect can be achieved more dramatically through words and images or simply with font and color use. A great example of this concept is the Keds’ reintroduction of the Handbook for Women print catalog. The brand plans to produce the printed piece bi-annually with a new theme for each issue.

Embrace a Hybrid Model

Magazine-catalog hybrids or magalogs have proven to be boons for brands like Costco. Their Costco Connection publication aimed at Executive level members holds down double duty. It provides content with recipes, information, and articles relating back to Costco products and services but also gives the company a valuable selling tool to a warmly invested audience.

Realness Sells

Consumers desire authenticity. Realness rings true, particularly for younger generations. Brands like Target, Aerie, Dove, and Olay discovered that putting real people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities in real situations show relatability. People want to see a reflection of themselves in advertising.

Let Your Creativity Fly

Don’t be afraid to experiment with color. Use pops of bright colors to create eye-catching layouts and unique color combinations. Mix illustrations with photography to give a fantastical effect. Use a brushstroke font or hand-lettering to deliver an intimate touch to the text.

Set the Stage

Gone are the days of a basic grid with product description layouts. Consumers like to see products in action. Create vignettes, flat or dimensional, that combine complementary products. A clear but creative arrangement allows for more products to be displayed in one impactful image. 

Tell Your Story

Catalogs are a great medium for telling the story of your brand, founder, or a specific product. Is there a unique origin story about your first product design? It doesn’t have to start with “Once upon a time…” but you can begin on the first page and tease it throughout the pages of the catalog. Storytelling engages the customer and shares your brand’s personality, making it more than just a company.

Tie in Digital

Build onto your digital marketing efforts by including QR codes and augmented reality (AR) elements into your catalog. Drive customers to special landing pages and promotions with QR codes or create your own interactive content with augmented reality. From fashion to beauty to home improvement and furnishings, there are dozens of creative ways that retailers are incorporating AR into their marketing.

While there are plenty of trends to explore in 2021 for catalogs, there is one thing for certain. The enjoyment of a catalog’s tactile experience is here to stay. Port Hawkesbury Paper is proud to produce 20% of North America’s supercalender paper for retail inserts and catalogs. Download our fact sheet for more information about our company and products.

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