How Direct-to-Consumer Brands Are Using Catalogs to Connect with Customers and Boost Sales

03_600x400_Quantum-Blog_Catologs-to-connect-customersLong before QR codes, digital carts, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) had an acronym, consumers would spend hours not on their phones, but flipping through store catalogs, painstakingly circling items to add to their purchasing wish lists. Today shoppers can order anything from cookies to couches in a matter of seconds, with DTC e-commerce sales predicted to reach $213 billion in 2024.


But direct mail catalogs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, DTC brands are using them to connect with customers more than ever before.


In the US, the market size of the mail order industry grew an average of 4.2% per year between 2018 and 2023, and marketers reported a 112% ROI on their direct mail marketing efforts, compared to 93% for email. Not only that, but a recent survey found that 70% of consumers trust print — including direct mail — more than any other medium.

Here, we’ll look at why DTC brands should reintroduce the idea of the catalog, and how a print automation solution can help these brands breathe new life into this sales tool.

Increase brand visibility and awareness

There were roughly 347 billion emails sent in 2023, which means that it’s harder than ever for brands to catch the attention of both current and prospective customers. Direct mail catalogs are an effective way to break through the digital noise and increase the visibility of your company. While only 44% of people can recall a brand’s digital ad, 75% of people were able to recall a brand from their direct mail pieces. 

To optimize your catalogs, feature additional content in a way that makes the customer aware of what you do and who you are — not just products and price. Studies show that catalogs that include content that shows a brand personality have the potential to drive increased sales, and that designs with photos and narratives are 40% more effective in both engagement and sales than that of just a picture and a product name.

Drive traffic to your website 

Customers love catalogs. They also like shopping online. The good thing for DTC brands is that 

60% of consumers who receive a catalog visit the website of the company that sent it to them and 69% of consumers consult a printed catalog before making a purchase. 

Not only that, but 61% of online shoppers see additional items they would like to buy when they have a direct mail catalog in hand while shopping. What about sales? Catalog recipients also spend around 28% more than those who weren’t sent catalogs, and websites supported by catalogs have reported a revenue boost of 163%.

In other words, catalogs are a way for brands to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds. By including integrations like QR codes, augmented reality (AR), and near-field communication (NFC) into your catalogs, you not only bring recipients to your website — where they can instantly convert — but you can track the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign using the website analytics you already have.  

Optimize greater staying power

We live in a “skim-it-and-forget-it” digital age where consumers spend an average of nine seconds reading brand emails. However, consumers spend an average of 30 minutes reading various forms of direct mail, and direct mail — including catalogs — has an engagement rate of 95%, and it’s interacted with at least four times by the recipient.

Print materials have the ability to help readers better retain and recall information. This makes catalogs a very effective medium for leaving a lasting impression, helping to strengthen the customer-company relationship.

Send personalized, targeted catalogs and offers

Customers like to feel that brands see them as more than just a sale, and one way to do that is through personalization. Around 71% of consumers expect some form of personalization, 76% are more likely to buy from brands that personalize, and companies see 40% more revenue from personalized marketing tactics. 

How can Quantum help DTC brands leverage the power of catalogs?   

Quantum’s automated print platform has the ability to integrate with a brand’s customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERM) software to harness data about purchase history, online browsing history, previous engagement, and a variety of other valuable demographics.  

Using these insights, a print automation solution can create personalized, targeted catalogs that include specific products or special offers that encourage your audience to take a specific action. If that action is taken, additional data is gathered, providing the metrics necessary to determine what kind of messaging is most effective for each specific audience and campaign. These insights can help you send more effective direct mail and get the most out of your marketing spend.  

Learn more about our print marketing automation and direct mail marketing services.