Why do companies keep sending print catalogs? Because they work

In this digital age, print catalogs may seem like a waste of paper. They clutter up our mailboxes and kitchen tables before inevitably ending up in the trash. But companies continue to send print catalogs for a simple reason: they work.

John Idol, the chairman and CEO of fashion brand Michael Kors Holdings, explained the logic on a conference call today (text via Factset):

We have a very strong catalog business. Many of our competitors have either exited that business or never really went into it in a strong way. We literally send millions of catalogs a year. And we think that’s been a real key push for our consumer.

We can see what it does in terms of our in-store performance when we drop catalogs. We get a very strong spike, we also get a very strong spike to our website.

And we also think that it really delivers the message that Michael Kors is the fashion resource for many Americans and Europeans and Japanese. So people keep that catalog at home or they actually come into the store with it, shopping with product and that’s been a strong driver for us. And we’re going to use that again very successfully during the holiday season.

It’s unclear what kinds of products benefit most from catalog marketing. Online retailer Geeknet announced this quarter that it would curtail its mailings because search engine optimization and online advertising have produced a far higher return on investment. On the other hand, Limited Brands also cited catalog advertising as an important part of its holiday season marketing strategy.

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