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Direct Mail Data Shows How Important Catalogs Are for Promoting Sales

Catalog printing and mailing with Conquest Graphics

Think of a time you received a catalog for a quality brand that you really love unexpectedly. How did that make you feel?

It may have seemed like a sign from above suggesting you go treat yourself to some new clothes, or maybe it made you feel slightly special, like a VIP customer, since they valued you enough to send you an awesome catalog listing this season’s newest items.

Catalog printing with Conquest Graphics

Printing and mailing a catalog takes a lot of preparation and work, but the payoff is more than worth it. Customers may promote your brand via word of mouth by sharing their inspiration with others for months to come.

According to a recent USPS study, 92% of households take the time to sort through print mail each day to specifically sort out and keep the catalogs. On average, a person will spend 15.5 minutes reading through a single catalog they received in the mail as they search for items that may interest them or friends.

The study also found 47% of the population sets catalogs aside to read later when they receive them in the mail. So, even though these individuals didn't read it and receive the messaging of the catalog immediately, they will likely do so over the course of the next month. These people tend to be the ones who know that they want to focus on the content since they know they like the brand or store. According to the study, these people ended up keeping the catalogs for an average of 20.3 days.

Whether this is because they ​think it looks pretty on their coffee table or because they take their time reading through it because they only have a few minutes on their daily commute, it's safe to say there are practically endless possibilities of reasons catalogs don’t get read as soon as they are delivered. From these research findings, we can conclude that catalogs today are publications with a significantly longer life cycle than other direct mail products.

People are holding onto their catalogs and making the most of the inspiration they ​provide. They slowly form emotional connections with your brand and products because of this tangible, prolonged exposure, and you benefit from every moment of it if your catalog is designed effectively and with your customers in mind.

The timing is optimal for marketers to take advantage of the unique powers of printed catalogs sent via direct mail to strengthen their customer and leads’ brand recall while also increasing your products’ desirability through stronger and more positive emotional connections.

The way people receive and mentally process printed messages is different than that of messages received via text, radio or email since print has a sense of being absolute because of its tangibility. Even though change is constant in the real world, things written in print are processed into our thoughts differently due to the permanence ink on paper seems bring to ideas, words, images of people and more.

According to one neuromarketing research study, printed advertisements have a more pronounced effect on consumer decision-making because of this same psychological principle. The studies ultimately conclude that it seems people are just wired to receive things written in text in a more focused, memorable manner.

A woman reading an architectural catalog.

Another USPS study found that 70% of readers say that reading a catalog usually leaves them with the desire to look at the brand or company’s website. This finding is an exciting one for marketers, and it's a big part of why mailing your customers and prospects catalogs is practically required for successful marketing strategies today.

A shocking 84% of consumers reported that they genuinely enjoyed receiving unexpected catalogs from places they had previously gone to shop. This kind of finding is monumental since it suggests that a majority of the population likes to stick with the products from brands they previously made purchases from. While this kind of communication is very direct, and never explicitly requested by the consumer, it is highly effective in the right settings for continuing to solidify the emotional relationship between the customer and the company.

In addition to the psychological perks of sending customers printed catalogs, there are practical ones, such as higher response rates than any other marketing channel out there.

The table below shows the response rates that each type of media receives when sent to customers:

Direct Mail




Social Media


Paid Search


Internet Display



Direct mail has a relative advantage over the rest when it comes to getting a response due to a combination of factors. The first is the fact that catalogs are more likely to reach their intended recipient. In addition, there's also the fact that printed communications reach consumers when they're nearly completely focused on their messaging do a good job of catching someone’s full attention when they’re being read.

While the very direct and focused nature of print communication is powerful and effective, it’s important to balance it out with things your audiences will find useful and interesting like pictures and content that complements your products. Having a catalog that's almost like a magazine also functions to characterize your brand and help establish some of your values in the consumer's mind.

For example, if you’re selling cookware, it would make sense to show your reader the different kinds of pots and pans you are selling with pictures of them in action. If you were to add some complementary content to your magazine, you could possibly include recipes and images of the food you can make using the cookware. This attracts the kinds of people who are good customers since your product is involved in one of their passions or hobbies and communicating with them will keep them loyal and happy.

Of all online shoppers, 58% say they browse catalogs for ideas before going to the web stores of their favorite products to make purchases based on what they saw in the catalog.

why catalog printing is effective

But how do you measure the success of a mailed postcard or catalog? There are a number of methods of monitoring your audience’s reception of the mailing, which you can learn more about in our blog on how to track print marketing.

One of the final touches that is uncommon in catalog printing and mailing is variable data printing, which is basically customizing parts of the content for your readers based on various qualities that you have recorded in your contact list. Some of the data that’s most commonly used includes your recipient's age, gender, demographic or geographic location.

If you have information about their business, you could even make fields that variably included specific content relevant to their given industry to make it seem like you’re interested in similar content.

No matter how you fit in the variable data elements in your catalog, it will provide a personalized touch to further enhance your reader's positive emotional connection with your brand.

Aside from driving sales and creating awareness, catalogs are excellent for encouraging your audience to willingly learn more about you and helping them find inspiration via your products. In this way, it's important to think of your catalog more in the editorial style of a magazine than a traditional product list style catalog.

Since social media has created such an editorial-style media environment online, it's important to bring a little editorial style into your catalog, too, so it can feel familiar and inspiring to your customers. In fact, 58% of shoppers say they browse catalogs just for ideas and ended up making purchases.

People like to read catalogs because they make them feel more confident in their purchasing because they become more aware of the available products across different product categories they're interested in. When designing your catalog, be sure to make certain it addresses your audiences curiosities and give them the facts they need to envision how your product will end up fitting into their lives.

If your catalog has earned a spot on a consumer's wish list, it has already accomplished one of it's major purposes: creating desirability for the given product. At the very least, making sure the catalog accomplishes this simple objective will already yield results far better than what would have been possible with postcards or smaller format direct mail items.

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Direct Mail Data Shows Just How Important Catalogs Are as a Tool for Promoting Sales

Direct mail is absolutely essential to use as a complementary or auxiliary marketing medium for growing your business. In this blog, we take a closer look at some of the recent statistics that have emerged about direct mail use and consumer preferences to show how catalogs are emerging as the most powerful of the direct mail media formats.

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