The humble catalogue’s “me moment”

by Matt Carracher
07 June 2018
The humble catalogue's 'me moment'

Should we be surprised that catalogues are having a moment in the spotlight when 56% of Australian consumers said they thought catalogues were the best place to find purchase-related information?

In the world of marketing, through all of the momentous digital change and relentless and increasingly fast evolution, physical catalogues delivered to letterboxes have remained remarkably constant in their ability to drive powerful results including message delivery, call to action and consumer engagement.

There are more consumers reading the ‘humble catalogue’ than ever before. This is perhaps thanks, in part, to the Aldi effect. Roy Morgan research shows that the Aldi catalogue is now the most highly-read supermarket catalogue in Australia. People reading the Aldi catalogue are not just reading that catalogue on its own of course. They are reading the accompanying catalogues and flyers too and being being driven into those stores as a result also. 

Around 10 million Australians read supermarket catalogues in the past 10 days. A massive chunk of these readers are what marketers call the ‘Grocery Buying Mum’ and they have directional control of where the family’s budget is spent.

Why have Australians been embracing catalogues during a period in which experts said we’d move away from anything paper-based and become truly digital? Actually, there has been quite a lot of research on that and it’s a fascinating read. Catalogues offer several psychological benefits that keep us coming back for more. 

Catalogues and the ‘me moment’

Catalogues provide a ‘me moment’ for their readers. By that I mean they occupy a quiet moment It might just be 10 minutes over a cuppa for Mum, or it could be five minutes while you’re making dinner. It’s a moment of peace, a meditative few minutes during which you’re closed off from the stresses and worries of the world and left alone with your thoughts and imagination.

And actually, it’s more than just a moment. Nielsen research has revealed that consumers spend 29 minutes per day with letterbox material on weekdays, and 33 minutes per day over the weekend (Nielsen CMV Survey 5, 2015).

People relax during these ‘me moments’ and often find inspiration. That inspiration can crystallise what people actually want. So you’re reading the Aldi catalogue and there’s a low-cost garden shed or a pair of ski boots. Perhaps it inspires the idea of a trip to the snow with the kids, or a new set of shelves for the garage. It could be a trigger point for something that has been in the back of an individual’s mind. It could solve a problem. 

Whatever that moment of inspiration does, it feels good. And it often represents an improvement to lifestyle, no matter how small. In an environment in which consumers are heavily bombarded with content, in the form of ads, emails, content marketing and more, the marketing world is coming to appreciate the power of what Google’s content marketing team, and others, refer to as ‘micro-moment marketing’. The power of catalogues is the fact that they go beyond micro moments and become a part of  of ‘quality time’.

Catalogues make frugality feel good

Where do consumers find the very lowest prices for their planned and unplanned purchases? Many consumers will tell you that the absolute best deals will be found each week in their letterbox, within the pages of catalogues. A Roy Morgan study in late 2017 said, outside of an internet search, 56% of Australian consumers felt catalogues were the best place to find purchase-related information.

Then there is the fact that there is a large and growing movement of people who are ‘lifestyle hackers’. They buy low-cost items, typically from places like KMart, and use them to solve common household problems that previously might have cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Entire websites and social media pages are dedicated to the creative solutions devised around these hacks.

The important point to recognise here is that frugal feels good. The Salmat Marketing Report 2018 said 83% of consumers consider price to be their number one purchase driver. But it’s not about being ‘cheap’, it’s about saving a little bit of money by discovering a deal through a particular retailer. Catalogues provide an opportunity to save money in a way that doesn’t make people feel cheap. Instead, they feel like they’ve had a little win, the same feeling you get when you beat the traffic lights or get a parking spot near the shop.

Catalogues support buying occasions

Catalogues link the retailer with the consumer and drive the purchase behaviour that ultimately both parties want. Initially, the retailer wants the purchase because they want the revenue. But the consumer also wants the purchase to satisfy whatever is their particular need. 

When the catalogue is able to offer a ‘me moment’, inspire a decision, reward frugality and result in a consumer walking into a store and making a purchase, everybody wins.

How do you improve on perfect?

This is not to say that all catalogue campaigns are 100% perfect. There are always improvements to be made and fine tuning to be done.

I regularly speak with clients about refining not only where their messages are going, but also lifting the frequency of that messaging. In fact, a number of retailers we’re talking to are currently taking the opportunity to fine tune their campaigns by slightly reducing volumes but increasing frequency. 

This links to today’s consumer behaviour. Messages stay in your inbox for a lot less time than they did three years ago. You’re constantly bombarded by messages so you need to be able to pick and choose the ones that are relevant to you. Amidst the barrage of communication, even if the message is relevant to you, sometimes you forget or are simply distracted and miss it. 

Marketing research has proven time and time again that repetition boosts message memory, makes claims more believable and is an immensely powerful tool of persuasion. The ‘illusory truth effect’, first studied in 1977, proved that messages became more believable the more often they were heard. Along those same lines marketers have long relied on the Rule of 3, another form of repetition.

If you miss something today because the catalogue arrived but you simply didn’t have time to look through it thoroughly, or you saw the deal then forgot, then if another catalogue comes again a fortnight or month later, the offer stays top of mind. Increased frequency offers a perfect reminder to pick up those soccer boots for your child, or that paint brush for the upcoming bedroom reno. 

The tools available today mean we can reduce wastage and re-invest some of those savings in greater amplification of reach. Better targeting and amplification of reach using those re-invested funds makes a powerful marketing tool even sharper.

That amplification and increased frequency could occur across multiple channels. It could occur across social, SEO, SEM, web, EDM and letterbox, for instance.

The same data and technology that allows for smarter targeting of audiences for larger retailers also allows smaller businesses to compete on the same playing field. No longer is letterbox too expansive or expensive for localised players. The channel can just as effectively be used by smaller retailers interested in targeting a relevant local-area market

Best of all, everybody in the catalogue arena is now able to take advantage of the Aldi effect and piggyback off the high levels of engagement consumers have with catalogues.

Find out more about how we can help you reach, convert and serve your customers here or call us on 1300 725 628.

About the author
Matt Carracher
General Manager - Marketing Solutions