As The Wall Street Journal reports, brands now see catalogs as bait, not as shopping tools themselves. That's why the ones you see in your mailbox have gotten skimpier — they're not meant to be a clearinghouse featuring every product for sale, just those super-special bejeweled baseball caps or limited-edition Nikes that'll drive you to the website to shop. Meanwhile, as the catalogs get smaller, their production standards raise. Anthropologie, Madewell, and many other catalogs feature top-of-the-line models, and far-flung European locales in their shoots — a far cry from the flat studio shots with no-name models in catalogs of yore.
And, the strategy is paying off. J.Crew's
Boden, a UK retailer reports that its shoppers typically spend 15 to 20 minutes with its catalogs, versus eight seconds with its emails. And, Williams-Sonoma finds its catalogs are so powerful at driving shopping, it devotes over half its marketing budget to producing and mailing them — not to mention, maintaining a database of 2,000 privately owned houses to serve as photo-shoot locations. So, we're glad catalogs are still around, even in their updated forms. Now, will somebody please, please get around to reviving the magalog? (WSJ)