Editorial: A Catalog Is a Catalog Is a Catalog

Share this content:
Not sure when "catalog" became a bad word, but two companies avoided it while talking about their new marketing efforts.


Buy.com is mailing its self-named "Buy.com Magazine," a 40-page book with more than 250 electronic products for sale. It also features six - yes, six - very short stories relating to the items, as in "Visualize More Workspace With an LCD Monitor" on the page selling computer monitors. The copy reads: "There are several advantages to choosing a CRT model over a flat panel. It all comes down to space, price and usability." Buy.com's Web site and a toll-free number are mentioned throughout the book. That's a magazine?


IKEA, meanwhile, is finishing its summer "brochure," a look into 8 1/2-year-old Katie's journal. The 48-page book is filled with hundreds of products for sale as well as a few notes from Katie on how she spent her summer vacation: "At the end of the summer we have a great summer party on my street. Everyone is invited. We have all kinds of seafood at our clambake. It's so much fun." Almost all of the items are ideal for summertime use - patio furniture, flower pots and the like - and it also sends readers to its Web site and includes a toll-free number. That's a brochure?


Why aren't these companies calling these things what they are? Catalogs. Both fit the definition in Barron's "Dictionary of Marketing Terms," which says a catalog is a "list of items available for purchase with the description and price of each item. ... Toll-free numbers are frequently given for ease of phone-in orders." Though magalog may be a better term for Buy.com's book, as mentioned by the agency that put it together, even that's a stretch, as the stories are there only to serve as a selling tool for the products. Even Abercrombie & Fitch's always-controversial magalog offers more than that.


Admittedly, this has been a painful year for catalogers. Mark, Fore & Strike announced plans last week to shut down its catalog operations. Foster & Gallagher went under last summer. Fingerhut is hanging by a thread. The medium, however, is far from broken and is nothing for marketers to shy away from, even if that was not their intent.
Loading links....
close

Next Article in Opinions

Sign up to our newsletters


Company of the Week


SK&A is a leading provider of U.S. healthcare information solutions and databases. As part of IMS Health, SK&A researches and maintains contact and profiling data for over 2 million healthcare providers, including 800,000+ prescribers. SK&A's data supports research and marketing initiatives for life sciences, medical device, managed healthcare, direct marketing, publishing, education and more. SK&A's proprietary databases are telephone-verified twice per year from its world class Research Centers. SK&A enables multi-channel marketing and sets the standard for data quality and reliability. SK&A's customers include many of America's most recognized healthcare, publishing and pharmaceutical institutions.


Featured Listings