Catalogues: Connecting with consumers. Converting sales

Mail Order. Magalogues. Look books. Catalogues. The channel has evolved but does print still hold a place in today’s retail media mix? And influence shopping behaviour? According to our latest research, two in three people visited the brand website after receiving a catalogue. And 55% bought something they saw in a catalogue.


Written by Eve Stansell

Panel Photo - Colourful townhouses on street

The channel has evolved but does print still hold a place in today’s retail media mix? And influence shopping behaviour?

According to our latest research, two in three people visited the brand website after receiving a catalogue. And 55% bought something they saw in a catalogue. 

Two powerful metrics for retailers.

But there’s more. 

We partnered with Retail Week to bring an in-depth view of the retail market from a consumer and retailer perspective. 

If you’re digital-first, you might be surprised by how the addition of a catalogue can create richer brand experiences in the short and long-term - delivering ROI at key sales periods and increasing brand loyalty.

Here are 4 killer research insights from the full report to help guide your media planning in 2023 and beyond. 


Insight 1: Catalogues have evolved to do more

Remember the big coffee table books like the Argos catalogues and Next Directory? Often an event in themselves as households consumed, shared and ear-marked to remind themselves of what to buy in-store.

And then the online shopping boom with the emergence of the brand website as a primary shopping channel. The catalogue no longer needed to showcase the entire product range with the full range available on screen.

But how do you inspire people to visit your website? What we’ve seen is a rise in catalogue edits – a taste of what the brand has to offer - designed to drive people online.

Our research data reflects this, drawing a comparison between now vs. then (2022 vs 2017):

  • 15% uplift on catalogues driving online behaviours and making browsers buyers
  • Catalogues are kept in the home longer - 45% are kept for at least a week (vs 38% in 2017) demonstrating their staying power and ability to bring the brand front of mind in an increasingly virtual world

Bringing us to our next insight…


Insight 2: Catalogues connect consumers with brands

Catalogues are hard to ignore. 

Their physical presence cuts through with 45% saying they are more likely to notice a catalogue sent in the post than a marketing email. 

As digital is task focussed, it is easy to ignore core messages and more people are finding print a way to switch off from screen time - 60% say that they enjoy sitting down with a catalogue and reading them in their own time. 

In the words of Majestic Wines:

Catalogues are a key brand piece for us, allowing us to personalise content and expand on the key majestic brand propositions, highlight our range, going into detail on the wines and winemakers, giving buyer insights or showcasing key events at times of the year.

Catalogues bring your brand to life in the shopper’s home environment, build a connection and take them on a journey.


Insight 3: A future shopping channel for future shoppers

Technology has fused physical and virtual worlds.

Today’s retailers have many creative ways to deepen the customer experience through more real-world visualisation in print- the more real the experience, the less likely the return of a purchase. 

A powerful quote at the heart of the research: 

Print powerfully brings the consumer into the retailer’s world. Digital paths allow the retailer to continue the conversation through the lens of the consumers own world – on and off the retailer site.

So, if print is the gateway, then QR codes are the key – unlocking both virtual doors and digital journeys. 

And the potential of VR and AR remains largely untapped despite 57% of consumers saying that they want these experiences in catalogues.

What about sustainability and the future of print? Catalogues are data driven and targeted so inherently less wasteful. They’re also more streamlined and sustainable thanks to product innovation with an increased focus on paper biodiversity.

We’ve developed a sustainable mail guide to help you make more informed decisions.


Insight 4: Seasonal and sector success

The research also highlights that Retailers benefit from seasonal success with catalogues – with peaks over Christmas, Black Friday, and the summer.

  • Majestic Wine’s Christmas sales rose 21.1% over the eight weeks to December 26 vs. pre-Covid levels in 2020
  • Argos drove 15,000 orders per hour on Black Friday stimulating bumper technology sales that held through to Christmas

Argos catalogue

For Christmas 2022, Loaf’s beautifully crafted Christmas catalogue stood out with wordplays on well-known festive themes and an interactive wordsearch puzzle.

Loaf Catalogue

Liberty brought their Christmas experience to life with QR codes, appealing imagery and enticing copy.

Liberty Christmas Catalogue

If we take a closer look at retail sectors, catalogues perform strongly for fashion and food and drink categories.


Always in Fashion

Fashion catalogues are highly effective with 43% driving immediate action and 23% resulting in immediate purchase. 

They’re a vital part of The White Company’s customer experience:

The brochure has evolved from our primary sales channel to a tool we use alongside our stores, social media, email and website to create a 360-degree shopping experience. 

Mark Winstanley, Chief Creative Officer, The White Company

The White Company broshure


Whet the appetite

Catalogues deliver for the food and drink category with 51% of catalogues driving a range of different action from going online, speaking to someone, or visiting a physical store.

Hotel Chocolat’s Christmas catalogue is a prime example of how to maximise the creativity of the medium. Kantar data showed the chocolatier’s catalogue scored in the top 2% of all UK ads on persuasiveness, proving the ability of catalogues to drive long-term brand building.

Layout, copy, striking and emotionally evocative visuals and well thought out use of colour, and structure are key. The response to this piece of content from Hotel Chocolat suggests it struck the right balance, because it was so liked and intriguing and people praised the layout, look and feel.

Lynne Deason, Kantar’s Head of Creative Excellence

Hotel Chocolat Catalogue



Looking to boost sales in a world of new consumer shopping patterns, media consumption and the cost-of-living crisis?

Our report, written with industry experts Retail Week, explores how catalogues can help retailers engage with their customers and adapt to changing consumer behaviour. Most importantly it shows how catalogues can convert browsers into buyers, with 55% saying they bought something they saw in a catalogue. Discover these crucial insights, top brand case studies and much more. Download the full report here.

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