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Bringing the smarts to Australia’s catalogue industry

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Bringing the smarts to Australia’s catalogue industry

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COVID-19 has forced us to reflect on traditionally unquestioned practices across almost all facets of our social, cultural, working and economic lives. Our consumer habits are no exception.

Corresponding with the rise of ecommerce during the pandemic, we’ve recently seen some of Australia’s biggest brands challenge their most conventional marketing staple: the paper catalogue.

In stopping paper catalogues during the crisis, the demand for digital catalogues has significantly increased during COVID-19 and consumers have adapted their habits past the need for printed catalogues.

Big W, Kmart and Coles ought to be congratulated for adapting to this seismic consumer shift towards ecommerce by being bold and pushing the industry forward.

A scattergun approach has become redundant and if the move away from paper to digital catalogues has taught us anything, it’s that catalogues must not be immune to personalisation.

In many cases, paper catalogues are still running due to a reliance on data from quaint national shopper surveys that justify their existence, and the misrepresentation of this data by those interested parties is absolutely dumbfounding if it weren’t for the millions of dollars potentially wasted.

This lack of measurement has existed for so long that it’s caused a ripple effect on the industry over time – and no one has had the guts to ask questions. With retail and household budgets squeezed and many marketing budgets cut during the pandemic, full marketing accountability becomes paramount.

There is no doubt digital catalogues are missing the feeling we get when we reach into our letterbox, and amongst the gas, electricity, and water bills, we find a catalogue from our favourite store. However, printed catalogues are very much a one-size-fits-all approach.

Digital catalogues offer a more curated experience that is data-driven and tailored to a shopper’s individual habits. They are targeted towards more astute shoppers who are looking for relevance and are most likely to convert. Not to mention better for the environment, with printing and distribution costs reinvested into better offerings, better shopping experiences and overall increased revenue.

It comes down to having regular access to data and insights (for example Criteo’s Shopper Graph, the world’s largest set of shopper data), which paper catalogues do not provide, and bringing the smarts about their customers’ motivations, preferences and unique behaviours to provide hyper-relevant content at the moments that matter most. This isn’t ground-breaking. It is marketing 101.

Untargeted marketing loses the opportunity to engage customers on the personal level they’ve come to now expect, and risks driving customers away by contacting them about irrelevant products or services.

Many retailers and marketers are still not using the tools and technologies available to create personalised customer experiences including machine learning alongside dynamic creative optimisation and product recommendations.

With Australians increasingly shifting away from print toward digital, the death of the paper catalogues is inevitable. Brands which do not equip themselves with the right technologies to harness the power of their customer’s data will fall behind, while the bolder brands will streak ahead of the competition.

Jasmine Giuliani

Jasmine Giuliani was the Editor of Marketing Mag from March 2020 to September 2021.

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