Print catalogs may seem old-fashioned to some, but old-fashioned is just what some customers have been looking for as the tumultuous pandemic era wears on.

This holiday season, some shoppers say that they are browsing print catalogs to avoid the stress and over-stimulation of online shopping, according to NBC News. Some also point to a cozy feeling, reminiscent of childhood, that one gets when thumbing through a physical catalog.

In the past year, marketers have begun to rethink print advertising as changes to the social media and technology landscape have made online advertising more expensive and reduced the return on investment, according to a CNBC article. Apple’s new iOS privacy settings, which limit the effectiveness of online tracking, and increasing scrutiny over Facebook’s business practices have played large roles in this shift. In addition to direct-mail catalogs, more retail brands this year have been trying out advertising on podcasts and television campaigns.

Enthusiasm for print catalogs in the digital age did not, however, begin in response to any recent move by Apple or Facebook. As far back as 2014, proponents of physical catalogs were touting them as a path to differentiation, given that print catalogs stood out more in a marketing landscape where far fewer retailers were using print for advertising.

The fact that one of the biggest names in online retail recently picked up on the catalog trend for the first time may further demonstrate the enduring value of the medium.

E-tail juggernaut Amazon.com launched a yearly physical toy catalog during the 2018 holiday season. The catalog even managed to generate controversy, a year later, when it was revealed that the retailer was charging up to $2 million for placement in the “curated” holiday toy guide.

On the other hand, some retailers that were keeping their longstanding catalogs going until recently have abandoned the medium. H&M stopped publishing its print catalog in 2019 due to reported dwindling customer interest, according to Bloomberg. The retailer had been publishing its catalog for 39 years.


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