History of Marketing

The Boring Catalog Is Dead. Long Live the Brand Experience!

Simon Berg By Simon Berg July 31, 2013

Just read that Google has decided to shut down their Google Catalogs app.

The only thing that surprised me about this news was that it hadn’t happened earlier.

Don’t get me wrong. Google does a lot of things brilliantly. Ceros couldn’t live without Google Hangouts and Google Docs. But, sadly, they missed the point completely when it comes to catalogs.

The funny thing is most of the journalists that covered this story missed the point completely. In their minds, this was proof that catalogs and digital don’t work together. As the reporter in the story above put it, “many people found shopping from catalogs on their tablets not a very worthwhile use of time.”

Here’s what the reporter should have said: “many people found shopping from boring, lifeless and static catalogs on their tablets not a very worthwhile use of time.”

Maybe they had gone a little far with the super glue on cheek joke!

These days, when people digest content digitally, they want so much more than the equivalent of taking a PDF and putting it online.

Furthermore, forcing a native app download is like blocking someone from coming in to your store unless they fill in a form. That’s not just bad business. That’s crazy bad.

Retailers, whether selling school supplies or luxury fashion, must understand that when communicating with audiences digitally, you must dazzle, enchant them, inform them and even entertain them.

Digital catalogs are most effective when they include meaningful content, interactivity, animation, even video. In the digital world, your audiences are always a single click from going to your competitors. You don’t have the luxury of just presenting products like they were some kind of grocery list.

Its shameless self promotion I know, but our clients, working on the Ceros platform, have created some amazing interactive digital catalogs. As an example, B&Q has created Garden Living, a catalog that is much more engaging and inspirational.

I feel it’s even problematic to call what I’m talking about “catalogs.” The very word conjures images of dense mini-books hitting you over the head with product pitch after product pitch. I prefer the term “brand experiences.”

Rather than telling you to buy, brands should be telling a story. Think of a travel guide that allows you to buy the perfect clothes and accessories to bring on vacation with you. You read about an exotic destination, you get excited about taking the trip and, while you’re thinking, “but I don’t have anything to wear,” conveniently interwoven with the brand experience is the perfect outfit. Oh, and it’s shoppable!

Suddenly, buying doesn’t seem like an imposition.  It’s almost as if the brand is doing you a favor by providing the solution to your vacation needs!

That’s not selling customers, it’s compelling them… and that’s a huge difference!


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