We had the pleasure of an extended stay with family over the holidays. It’s always funny to spend time in a home inhabited by an older couple, because you’re likely to spot remnants of “the way life used to be” before cell phones and laptops took over.
One thing I noticed was that my older relatives have TONS of clothing catalogs, and more arrive in the mail almost every day. The idea of shopping from a catalog seems totally foreign to me, but they would rather thumb through the pages of a catalog rather than conduct a targeted internet search and quickly scrolling through the results.
And she’s not alone.
As a recent TriplePundit article pointed out, “each year, about 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. It means that every American receives more than 60 catalogs every year on average. Why? Because according to the Direct Marketing Association, printed catalogs provide a 7 to 1 ROI and an impressive direct order response rate of 2.24 percent. With such impressive figures, is it surprising retailers are printing hundreds of billions of catalogs every year?”
But as the author, Raz Godelnik, goes on to state, this ROI is only impressive because neither consumers nor retailers are forced to acknowledge the immense environmental impact of this outdated marketing tactic:
- 53 million trees that produce 3.6 million tons of paper,
- 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and
- 53 billion gallons of wastewater
Thankfully, the digital revolution means that the days of print advertising, even entrenched concepts like direct mail catalogs, are numbered. And a new iPad app, Catalog Spree, hopes to speed the change by appealing to the millions who found an Apple tablet in their stocking last weekend.
The free app offers all the glossy images and browsing pleasure of a catalog with out all the planet-killing, mailbox choking paper. And unlike those paper catalogs, Catalog Spree allows shoppers to track their favorite items, share them with friends on Facebook, and receive special promotions via email.
What do you think? Are digital apps like Catalog Spree the final death knell for the direct mail industry?
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