Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Catalogs: Source Books or Dead Trees?

Restoration Hardware made business headlines recently by doing something that proves catalog marketing is far from dead: It mailed millions of 17-pound bundles of source books. The company's home page describes the source books as "over 3300 pages of curated and inspired design." The bundle included 4 "lifestyle books" (such as interiors) and 9 "category books" (such as lighting, bath, etc), mailed once a year.
From Tumblr "Deforestation Hardware"

Some members of the public don't see what Restoration Hardware sees, especially since the CEO has been promoting corporate sustainability, saying, "I don’t know of another catalog retailer of scale taking the steps we are to minimize our impact on the environment."

In and around Palo Alto, California, some recipients were so outraged by the sheer size and weight of the delivery that they returned the bundles to the nearest Restoration Hardware store. Other media around the country (social and conventional) have picked up the story and consumer comments.

The debate continues: Are catalogs source books or dead trees?

To engage shoppers and save trees and money, many catalog merchants are testing innovations. For example, IKEA Russia has a new app in its Instagram presence that allows smartphone users to see more merchandise photos.

Meanwhile, consumers who don't want catalogs in their mailboxes can add their names to a variety of "do not mail" lists like DMA Choice and Catalog Choice.

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