When catalog publishers send their pieces out into the world, the obvious goal is to get their audience’s attention. So, when someone here at Walsworth gets an eye-catching piece in the mail, we like to share.
One mailer that’s been showing up at households across the United States is Amazon’s holiday catalog. Geared toward kids, this catalog features several fun details that made it stand out from the rest of that day’s mail. As one of the largest retailers on the planet, Amazon has plenty of resources to add fun details. However, it’s possible for Walsworth catalog customers to replicate some of these methods using Walsworth’s offerings and capabilities.
Why is Amazon Sending me a Catalog?
The first thing I noticed was that Amazon was sending me a catalog. It was unexpected, as I mostly think of Amazon in terms of their website or app. This is the online retail giant’s second holiday catalog, which they began producing the same year Toys R Us closed their doors and stopped printing their massive holiday toy catalog.
The catalog doesn’t list prices. This makes sense, as the company can change prices on a single item daily. It also forces the curious to visit Amazon. This is made even easier through the “search with camera” feature. The first page of the catalog includes instructions on how to find the products just by opening the Amazon app and taking a picture of the catalog.
Another way Amazon drives traffic to their website is through SmileCodes. It’s a small icon that appears throughout the catalog. It can be scanned with the app to see more related products.
Walsworth customers with a solid digital presence can replicate this idea using QR codes. You can link to a page with related content you want to drive customers to. Because this system isn’t quite as seamless as taking a picture in-app, be sure to provide high-value content that people will want to access.
Did you know that Walsworth builds apps? We also provide eCommerce solutions. Our expertise can help you build digital and print solutions that complement each other, like the app we built as a companion to Danchuk Manufacturing’s 750-page catalog.
The second thing I noticed were the fun extras included in Amazon’s catalog. Inside the cover is a tear-out Holiday Wish List meant for kids to write on. On the back of the tear-out is a holiday-themed Mad Libs page. The second insert is particularly brilliant: a page of stickers with instructions to “tag your favorite gifts.” The stickers are cute, featuring animals wearing scarves and earmuffs or the words “sweet,” “wish” and “yay.”
These additions take the catalog from something you look at to something you interact with. It’s easy to imagine youngsters sitting down to peruse the catalog, marking what they want and handing it back to their parent.
Walsworth customers can replicate this idea by adding interactive elements to their own catalog. A tipped-in page can provide customers a place to make lists or capture their thoughts. Maybe you could include a fun activity or game related to your industry. A bind-in card could encourage recipients to send a postcard.
A Reason to Keep It
The final two pages of the Amazon holiday catalog include instructions on how to turn the company’s shipping boxes into a polar bear costume. Because of its placement, this section couldn’t easily be torn or cut out from the rest of the catalog, making people more apt to keep the entire catalog in their house.
Walsworth catalog customers could dedicate a few pages to high-value content recipients will want. It may be a well-written article or assembly instructions.
Paper Choice and Size
We’ve shared before about how paper choice affects perception of a publication. The Amazon catalog is printed on heavy paper that is satisfying to hold. The satin finish looks good while still lending itself to being written on should someone want to circle a product or write down a price.
At 7 ½” by 9 ½” and only 88 pages, this smaller-sized catalog is easy for little hands to hold. They might also be using a technique some say Richard Sears, of the once-ubiquitous Sears Roebuck catalog, used. According to the podcast 99% Invisible, by intentionally making the catalog smaller than its competitors, it’s more likely to be placed at the top of a pile.
The cover of the Amazon catalog stands out from other holiday toy catalogs because it isn’t really focused on the toys. Instead of showcasing whatever this season’s hot item is, it shows kids running through a living room in the very homemade box costumes it explains how to make on the back page. Amazon probably sells everything in the photo, from the pajamas the kids are wearing to the carpet they’re walking on, but you don’t consciously think about that when you look at the photo.
Think about the catalogs your competitors are doing and how you can stand out in a good way. You could feature employees instead of models, or use a vintage photo from your company’s early days. There are many ways to stand out if you think outside the box.
Retail writer Kiri Masters speculates in Forbes that, if they’re not already, Amazon will customize future holiday catalogs by recipient. They know plenty about their customers – from what they order to what they watch on Amazon Prime – so they have the information needed to create a customized product.
The ability to create custom versions of a product depends on the information available to the company printing the catalog. But with a few broad categories, like age range, you could create different versions to send out.
Why Send a Catalog?
It seems odd that an online retailer sent out a catalog at all, but it makes sense. Research shows millennials have a good response to catalogs, and many millennials now have young children this holiday catalog is targeting.
It’s a way Amazon can grab the attention of a group that has no problem pulling out their phone to search an app for a product they just saw on paper. Most importantly, Amazon is doing their print catalog well. It could have been something that looked much like other toy catalogs being sent at this time of year, but Amazon used the techniques listed above to really stand out from the crowd.
Looking to implement some of these ideas in your own catalog? Let’s talk!