Case Study: Championing Catalogs – CPG

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Do Catalogs still Work?

The Assignment:

PetsUnited was an 11-division ecommerce company that also sent out 4 catalogs a year. There were two divisions that received catalogs (dog and equine customers) and they were sent twice a year. The catalogs were large scale product packed catalogs designed to offer existing customers another way of purchasing. The catalogs were done in house using existing product images and stock photography, and were sent to all repeat buyers and all one-time buyers over a specific threshold (varied by division).

The Challenge: 

The cost and focus on these catalogs were continuous and upper management was convinced catalogs don’t work anymore. They had already made the decision to stop one of the equine catalogs per year and were now considering eliminating all, without reviewing sales data.

The Approach:

I championed and lead a new approach to keep catalogs as a part of the offering, reducing them in size and hyper targeting to audiences, while increasing the frequency.

The Work: 

  • product selectionDeveloped a competitive analysis and based on that, developed a strategy for the targeted audiences for the two divisions.
  • Recommended tailoring the content and creative to the audience.
  • Chose products by maximizing the SQUINCH through margin and use analysis.
  • Tagged products in our system with catalog designations for measuring and tracking outcomes.
  • Chose targeted audiences from our in-house CRM and included cross-division mailings and inserts, and to co-market to different new audiences.
  • Used in-house photographer to developed more upscale imagery and new product photography, in use.
  • Developed direct mail pieces as follow up for order inserts and customer follow up after purchase (after second purchase and/or threshold purchase).
  • The new creative and focus of the catalog was also added to the division websites to elevate design and enhance the existing product images.
  • Tagged all email sign ups with the catalog attribution for new or repeat customers to allow for deeper analysis.

The Outcome: 

  • Do catalogs still work - equestrian suppliesLower cost for production (smaller books, in-house and product photography, targeted distribution, reduction in mailing cost).
  • 25-35% margin increase increase return on investment based and tracked on SKU designations in orders and re-orders.
  • 17% Increase in new users based on first time buyers in our system.
  • Ongoing reporting and analysis set up to track omnichannel purchase behavior based on these catalog customers.


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