Since the early days of the internet, eager pundits have declared the death of print more times than can be counted. Yet like all strong contenders, print reasserts momentum at the end of each round – often stronger in the face of adversity. And so seems to be the case now with the recent upswell in direct mail catalog shopping, which is experiencing a new round of success during the coronavirus pandemic and the holiday season.

This success is no surprise to us at Artisan Colour. Our experience in producing high-quality catalogs for our clients’ marketing campaigns is long-standing. By providing the resources to create catalogs that are not just serviceable but also works of art, we offer one a truly tangible way to get our clients’ products in front of their customers.

Catalog Shopping Success Story: prAna

prAna catalog shopping by ArtisanColour

Artisan has worked with prAna, a sustainable clothing company, for over a decade to produce 10 full-color catalogs a year. Our collaboration is ongoing, moving from one issue to the next.

Some of the skills we provide for clients like prAna include:

Professional Color Correction and Photo Editing

Colour is in our name because it is our specialty, from color consistency to color correction. Specifically tailored for catalog printing, we offer photo retouching and manipulation services, RGB color management services, G7 Idealliance certified proofing, and more to create the most vibrant, high-quality printed catalogs for customers to enjoy your brand.

dress custom product photography image retouching

Photo Studio Access

Our fully equipped fashion and product photography studio is available for all of our clients. When products change after the full catalog shoot, clients turn to our photography experts to recreate environments and transform products so that customers get exactly was they expect. This saves clients tremendous amounts of time and cost by not having to reshoot on location with talent.

Help with Creative

You don’t have to attempt the daunting process of designing a catalog alone. At Artisan, we support you with our decades of catalog expertise, from art direction to layout, photo editing to final press ready files, all coming together in partnership to make your vision a printed reality.

Fast Turnaround

Time is of the essence with direct mail marketing materials like catalogs. This is especially true when it comes to holiday catalogs and the narrow window to impress new customers just as they are ready to shop for the season. For this reason, we are tightly managed through the prepress process up through printing.

Our in-house project management teams ensure the turnaround schedule for catalog production is timely. For companies like prAna that produce multiple catalogs a year, we know the importance of meeting deadlines.

“Artisan has impeccable attention to detail… they also have just so much experience. I just trust that I’m going to end up with a good product because I have them on my team.”
-Kathy Hansen, prAna Senior Graphic Designer

From 2010 to 2013, prAna experienced an annual growth of more that 30%. That growth has continued as a Columbia Sportswear brand. As of 2018, prAna’s annual revenue was $157 million – a net sales growth of 21% over 2017.

Together, we collaborate with catalog clients like prAna to create captivating, page-turning artwork that they are proud of. These mail order catalogs are one of the most tangible aspects of a brand and it is essential to get it right, every time. We take this responsibility seriously and offer a high-quality experience to each of our clients, honed over 20 years of our color printing services.

Elevated Design and Captivating Covers

In decades past when catalogs were the main mode of advertising, mailboxes filled up with these materials. Recipients browsed briefly, perhaps ordered from it, and then tossed the catalog in the trash.

Today, the rarity of printed catalogs has elevated both the way people enjoy them and the way companies design them. They often feature more than simply products; many are troves of visual information.

The Utah State University Outdoor Recreation Archive (ORA) has been using catalogs to “trace a century of the great outdoors.” Its collection of approximately 3,000 outdoor industry catalogs contain many photographs documenting nature around the globe. This includes documenting the 2020 pandemic. As consumers seek to enjoy the great outdoors more, the catalog industry saw an aesthetic boom.

From L.L.Bean’s “hand-painted, beautiful outdoor vistas,”  to Patagonia’s mountain-top snapshots, the art and photography of these printed catalogs illustrate the evolution of outdoor style while also setting them – and in turn the products – apart.

Today at Artisan we work to accomplish the same. With high-quality, color printing and design, we work to make your content shine amidst the imagery that both attracts your customers and elevates your catalog from the junk mail of the old days.

Print vs. Digital Advertising

There is room for, and a need for, both print and digital advertising. In fact, they should work in concert.

Print gets in front of customers and stays in front of them, driving them to the digital world. The nature of a print catalog is that this physical item stays in the home longer. Perhaps it becomes leisure browsing. The artwork or photography may warrant a second look. Still, it remains in the living space significantly past the time it takes to read a marketing email or social media ad.

While a website may deliver about five minutes of browsing time, catalogs may stay in the home for months. Customers return to browse the contents more than once, particularly when they are looking for reading material that is not screen-based. Funnel your customers to your website with your catalog.

How Are Catalogs Weathering the Pandemic?

Surprising as it may be, print catalog success during the pandemic has been improved for some industries. Those industries that see a marked response to print marketing materials retained their catalog plans this year, while those with perhaps more lackluster responses may have chosen to save costs by cutting print marketing.

For example, UK delivery firm Whistl noted that one client decided to retain its print plans and saw a 41% increase in responsiveness in catalog shopping. As more people were at home with time to leaf through print materials, the ones that arrived were well-received.

Without the typical in-person holiday shopping, holiday catalogs became even more important and will remain so into the spring and summer as the pandemic wears on.

Which Businesses See a Benefit from Catalogs?

Catalogs are a prime opportunity for visual branding. As art directors and layout managers go for more artistic spreads reminiscent of magazines rather than sales catalogs, the result is vibrant, eye-catching materials. Though the images are static, the page layout is more dynamic than a product page listing on most retail websites.

sundance catalog printed by artisancolour catalogue shopping experience

Businesses that are seeing the largest benefit from this visual branding currently are those that may be missing out on in-person customers. They are likely also providers of luxury and/or recreational goods (i.e. Patagonia, Sundance, Prana).

On the other end, necessities-sellers such as grocery stores and pharmacies have seen high sales throughout the pandemic, and thus cut their use of print materials.

Brands that require customers to experience their products in person, and which are more likely to be purchased for fun or enjoyment, benefit by cultivating engrossing imagery in their catalogs. While it may not be the perfect replication of an in-store shopping experience, it does offer customers a tangible and contextual link to the products.

Pushing Back on Sustainability Criticism

One of the best evolutions of the print catalog market has been a move to more targeted sending. This helps with both sustainability goals as well as plotting the most effective route for marketing materials.

Sundance Catalog Winter Retail Cards Variable Data Printing ArtisanColour

There are some customers who respond well to print content via direct mailing. By setting up easy-to-access digital sign-ups for catalog mailing, as well as targeting demographic analytics to see which other similar customers may appreciate receiving a catalog, clients get the best value for the expenditures on materials and shipping.

Though there was more success among print catalogs during the pandemic, numbers of actual print materials are likely less for 2021. This was because only companies that saw worthwhile responses from their catalog outreach retained their print marketing plans during the cost-cutting pressures of the pandemic.

For instance, grocery store fliers reduced in some areas. With folks already spending more time at home, food profits were up and fewer fliers were necessary. This helped reduce waste throughout the industry.

It also made the arrival of a catalog more unique. Customers and potential customers had less junk mail to sort through, so high-quality direct mail from brands they love was able to stand out.

Artisan Colour Catalog Shelf

Add Catalog Shopping to Your Marketing Plan

Give your business the opportunity to succeed in a new vein of marketing with catalog shopping. Throughout upcoming holidays and the persisting coronavirus pandemic, getting your products in front of customers who are getting out less and less is ideal. After the pandemic, they may then come to anticipate the catalogs they have come to enjoy.

At Artisan, we have the skills and infrastructure to get your company’s catalog up and running in no time. We look forward to collaborating on a unique branding experience that brings your products right into your customers’ hands. Get in touch to learn more about catalog shopping printing solutions.