Digital ascends but print still rules catalog business

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Slade Kobran
Slade Kobran

Marketers in the publishing and catalog industries predict digital will serve a greater role in their campaigns over the next three years, but it will not completely replace print.  

At Infogroup, we surveyed a small group of influential clients in the publishing and catalog industries about how they see the industry evolving over the next three years and the trends that will emerge. Interviews were conducted between December 2010 and March 2011.

Our catalog clients see a very tough and competitive environment that will require a multichannel approach as well as better targeting methods to stabilize their businesses. They also feel that direct mail is at a crossroads in the digital era. Catalog marketers are using more sophisticated targeting methods to be more efficient in their house file mailings in order to transfer those advertising dollars to acquisition. However, those dollars are not all going to direct mail. Many are executing combinations of direct mail and email or online messaging to reinforce their brands.

Co-op databases are playing a greater role in prospecting in the catalog industry. All the catalog marketers we surveyed said co-op databases are and will continue to be part of their circulation plans due to the modeling and analytical capabilities of databases.       

Half the publishers we spoke with do not feel co-op databases will play a major role for their businesses. For publishers and catalog businesses, brokers can play an important role in understanding co-ops and facilitating the relationship, but not a critical one.  

Co-ops will continue to be a strong component of catalog acquisition plans, especially in a marketplace working to drive down costs and improve ROI.  

The anticipated industry evolution impacts needs in the publishing and catalog industries in very different ways. With the emergence of digital, publishers anticipate the need for more email addresses versus physical addresses. Catalog businesses see the need for their consultants to help the business perform better year over year.

Marketers from both industries described their needs for list management with some seeking lists for specialty businesses and others mentioning their preference for list rentals.

One publishing marketer described the ongoing need to work with a partner “to positively influence the digital transformation of the data and publishing industry in general.”

Despite the emergence of online resources changing the industry, some things stay the same. Every marketer surveyed described the need for effective communication and a deep understanding of their business.

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