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Fenders, fruit flies and pickled onions: the power of catalogues


Fenders, fruit flies and pickled onions: the power of catalogues


Its official. I think I’m turning into a 55yr+ female.

Its not just the grey hair – but last week I purchased a fruit bowl with matching fly screen and a tea bag squeezer from the Home Care catalogue. Whats weird is I dont have a particular problem with fruit flies or tea bags. I just love catalogues. Always have done. At the tender age of 14 I ordered a Fender Stratocaster from a popular catalogue, and used it for one gig before sending it back within the fortnight for a full refund (yes my band was that bad).

How is it that those glossy sirens can have you reaching for your credit card before you can say Long Handled Pickled Onion Fork? Its not glamorous but the copywriters have me seriously doubting my own dexterity with a standard kitchen utensil.

Just why does everything in a catalogue sound so appealing? Are there genuine gaps in the market for so many gadgets and appliances, or is it little more than clever copy that has us buying into this promise of an easier life in the kitchen?

Doing it Digital

Online shopping may be a wave of the future. But by dropping everything to go digital, arent we neglecting an entire sales channel? By and large, the uptake of the internet in the over 60s is relatively slow and low. There are exceptions to the rule, but I find it hard to picture an army of pensioners with PCs burning up bandwidth as they surf the latest from Lasoo.com.au or Cataloguecentral.com.au.

At a time when we profess to admire all things green, 50-odd pages through the letterbox might not appear to be very eco-friendly – especially if duplicates are received. However, it has been my experience that mail order direct marketers are some of the best data planners in Australia, and its worth noting that the percentage of overall waste paper generated by mail order is not particularly large.

People today tend to have shorter attention spans, so the question of whether they form a strong brand association with mail order catalogues is up for debate. But if out of sight is out of mind, closing your internet browser and powering down may leave your mind wandering while the dog-eared pages of a catalogue can keep tempting you from the prime position of the corner of the coffee table.

Trash or Treasure?

Even many consumers who claim to hate junk mail cant resist the guilty pleasure of a quick flick through a good catalogue. Theres a certain kind of anticipation that comes from turning a crisp and colourful page thats reminiscent of Christmas coming. And its not just the oldies. How many kids around Australia flick through the weekly Kmart and Target mini catalogues that tease them and unnerve their parents with the lastest monster toy sale?

Whats more, you can window shop without leaving the house and take your credit card for a work out from your own comfy lounge. And mail order is a quick fix for an impulse purchaser, with the built-in safety net of a 90 day return policy for buyers remorse.

Once you succumb its difficult to kick the habit, and it starts to affect your work life as well. Ive caught myself reading the recent Officeworks catalogue, and anti-fatigue mats and pre-inked rubber stamps are seriously working their way up the list of must-have office accessories.

Perhaps I am getting old(er) but if youre feeling jaded you could do a lot worse than taking some time out with a good, old fashioned catalogue and observe the masters at work. Go on treat yourself – who knows what you might decide you need.

Do catalogues have the same effect on you as they do on me?


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