The print media revival. Lessons from IKEA, Canadian Tire and Facebook

7 minute read

Following its wilderness years, the catalogue is has made a spectacular comeback. Reimagined, and now an integral element of the modern marketing mix, the new era of catalogues, magalogues, look books and guide books can deliver ROI in a way that digital channels can’t manage alone.

In place of catalogue traditionalists, who once abandoned the medium to focus on making online connections with customers, and digital pure plays, who dismissed print as a thing of the past, a new wave of marketers has emerged. They’re busy rediscovering the power of physical media. They’re recognizing the importance of sensory experiences (and the relief that consumers feel when they can connect with brands on a deeper level – far from digital clutter). They can see the value in using lifestyle publications to create the engagement and enthusiasm that incites action. They know from experience that today’s catalogues lead to sales – both online and in-store. And, they understand that millennials see novelty on the printed page. That’s why they’re leveraging physical media as a component of their online strategy.

Amazon mimics traditional retailers

So who’s playing in this space? Amazon, for one. News that the e-commerce giant plans to print a toy catalogue this holiday season – to fill the gap left by Toys“R”Us, and tap into the magic of nostalgia – has certainly grabbed attention.

As Amazon comes out to play, it joins a list of big names that are already convinced by the power of print. What are their stories? We’ve taken a look at three of them: Canadian Tire’s WOW Guide, the IKEA catalogue and a new catalogue of ideas for business leaders – Grow by Facebook:

Canada’s catalogue

In 2016, After a 9-year absence, Canadian Tire mailed 12 million 200-page catalogues showcasing 1,000 products. The company’s current EVP of retail, Allan MacDonald, explained to The Financial Post  that Canadian Tire was investing in a promotional tool for their digital catalogue, “A purely digital catalogue has high potential for delivering information – consider the marketing appeal of having a virtual reality patio builder linked to a patio photo spread, for example, and offers 200 pages of extra catalogue content — but it still lacks the consumer reach of a traditional paper version.”

Disruptive next practices

Canadian Tire’s CTO, Eugene Roman, spoke to IT World Canada about the bold move, and how different the WOW Guide would be, “We aren’t interested in best practices. That’s for our competitors. What we’re looking at is next practices.” Roman calls their approach phygital – a bricks and clicks, or clicks and mortar model.

A new kind of catalogue emerged, combining augmented reality with print on paper. Using Canadian Tire’s mobile app, WOW Guide readers could use a smartphone or tablet to hover and discover video links, as well as information on pricing or local inventory details, for example.

Online sales doubled

According to The Globe and Mail, Canadian Tire’s CEO at the time, Michael Medline, told the company’s annual meeting that the catalogue was having such a big effect on their e-commerce business that, immediately after the launch of the WOW Guide, the retailer’s weekly online sales doubled.

And the catalogue continues to wow Canadians. This valuable marketing tool appears twice a year, and now incorporates specific search terms on the page, to guide readers to their digital destination. They can learn “How to choose a smoker,” find out aboutInspiring outdoor ideas from the CANVAS Patio Collection” discover How to find the perfect hybrid bike.” It’s full of relatable images that play into lifestyle aspirations and are reflected in the online and in-store experiences.

Start the car! IKEA’s catalogue is on its way

The 2019 IKEA catalogue has hit the mat, and Canadians are busy bookmarking pages. According to a Globe and Mail article, legend has it that after the Bible, the second most popular book found in homes around the world is the IKEA catalogue. Celebrating its 75th birthday, and with a distribution of close to 6 million copies in Canada alone, IKEA is as young and relevant as ever – full of affordable, easy inspiration that promises to lead to a better everyday life at home, no matter how we live.


IKEA Canada’s head of marketing, Lauren MacDonald, tells strategy online that the annual catalogue is always a heavy marketing priority for IKEA, “Excitement for its arrival remains high among Canadian consumers. “Since the catalogue started arriving in mailboxes…we’ve already seen it rise as one of our most-discussed topics on social media. Many of our customers have annual traditions or rituals when their catalogue arrives, taking the time to read it from cover to cover with a cup of coffee.”


The catalogue with cult status and millennial appeal

They say that millennials are fascinated by print – attracted to the novelty of a highly tactile experience. And there’s one in particular who’s taken a greater interest than most. Millennial memory athlete, Yanjaa Wintersoul, became IKEA’s human catalogue when she memorized all 328 pages of the 2018 edition.

Happily, you don’t have to be a mental gymnast to engage with print media. David Sax is a Canadian journalist He’s the author of The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. He explains the millennial fascination with analog, “Because the millennial generation came of age with broadband, internet, smartphones and social media, we assume that is all they want. But, in fact, when you look at who is driving the return of things like vinyl records, print books, paper books, new magazines, niche publications, it’s exactly that demographic of millennials, and those younger than them.” David believes, “That’s because they don’t view digital as special. Digital is like the air around them. To them, there’s a uniqueness when someone presents them something in an analog format. They’re more willing to see the value and not to see it as antiquated.”

Relevant content for immediate action and future reference

Catalogues are a great way to drive action and they’re often kept for future reference or shared with others. According to a Canada Post survey, 40% of those who receive catalogues keep them for at least a month, with 20% of those surveyed indicating they keep catalogues for at least four months.

A catalogue is a tangible presence that’s available at the moment of truth – when a shopper is considering a purchase. A convenient, inspiring source of reference to enjoy during a peaceful moment in an otherwise busy life. It presents so many opportunities for brand engagement.

Grow is Facebook’s catalogue of thoughts

Somewhere between a magazine and a thought process, Grow by Facebook has been called a lifestyle magazine for the elite – a new platform for stories about people, companies and trends stirring up the status quo. In a post launching the quarterly, Grow by Facebook says its “ambition is to help business leaders keep ahead by creating and curating insightful content and experiences.”

Source: thechapel.yxz

Traditional disruptor

It’s all about connecting the dots between traditional brands and disruptive newcomers. And disrupting content delivery methods by adding print to the mix. Included in the first edition, there’s an interview with H&M’s “disruptor-in-chief”, Oscar Olsson: The Millennial Whisperer. There’s an article about the extraordinary rise of Paris as London’s main tech competitor: Bienvenue à Silicon-sur-Seine. Plus, there’s a Recipe for the Perfect Disruptor.

Multi-platform content strategy

Facebook’s high-end print publication emerged out of a small 2015 event in the English countryside. It’s now part of a multi-platform content strategy in pixels, print and partnership, including 2018 invite-only events in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Sweden.

According to The Drum, all of Grow’s content will be available online via its Facebook page and blog, and it will use platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn to distribute content. A “new digital home” is also in the pipeline. A partnership with Founders Forum and Vanity Fair launches later this year.

Source: thechapel.yxz

By mail and in transit

In print, Grow by Facebook is mailed to clients directly. It is also available to readers through selected airport and train business lounges. “We know that business leaders have limited time for long reads at work, so we’ve also created a physical version with journeys in mind.”

There’s no doubt that people still notice, open, read and enjoy physical media. That they consider it less intrusive and more memorable than over-familiar digital channels. Making the connection with physical media at home or in transit allows readers to immerse themselves in the page, engage deeply with the content and plan whatever action they’re going to take next.

You can join the disruptors by reading more about catalogues that get better results:

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