The Rebirth of Print? The Return of Print Catalogues and Their Association with Magazines.

By : SPHmagazines
March 3, 2015
Tags: , , , , ,
Category: Campaign Showcase

It was not too long ago that we saw print publishers scampering to save their business by developing digital products. While some are able to rise to the challenge successfully, others fall and had to close their business altogether. Ironically, we are now seeing a somewhat about-turn – print, or in this case print catalogues, are making a comeback.  

According to a recent article in The Business Times (first published in The New York Times), in the US, retailers are increasingly shifting from focusing solely on digital marketing efforts to a dual focus on print and digital. However, the look and feel of print catalogues, as well as the marketing objective, has changed. Felix Carbullido, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Williams-Sonoma brands summed it up nicely: “Years ago it [catalogue] was a selling tool, and now it’s become an inspirational source”.

This shift places catalogues on the same trajectory as magazines in a consumer’s path to purchase. That is why many retailers are enthusiastic in developing catalogues in partnership with magazines, and to distribute these catalogues together with the magazines. Doing so allows them to firstly, tap on the expertise and experience of magazines as a well-regarded source of inspiration to readers and secondly, leverage on the aspirations of magazine readers. Indeed increasingly there is a blurring of line between catalogues and magazines, leading to the coining of a new term

SPH Magazines’ Creative Services team works with advertisers to produce catalogues in collaboration with its titles. Some of the works as a result of the partnership are illustrated below.

1. Sephora in collaboration with Her World December 2014 issue


Sephora partnered with Her World to produce a 27-page catalogue framed as a festive gift guide. In it, products were curated around models showcasing several ‘looks’. Interestingly, popular and on-trend Instagram features were inserted into this showcase so as to engage with Instagram-savvy beauty readers of today. Popular hashtag #MOTD (Makeup of the Day) was placed at the top of each look, followed by catchy labels, such as “Dark Siren” and “Party-Perfect”. At the bottom of each look, several outcomes of the look placed under various Instagram filters were included to reflect a popular habit in photo-editing today.

2. Westgate in collaboration with Her World July 2014 issue


Relatively new mall, Westgate, worked with Her World to craft an inspirational catalogue of looks for each day of the week. It uses a clever approach of leveraging on the skills of a stylist from the magazine to curate these looks and provide commentary and tips for each look. As readers look to the magazine as a voice of authority, having such commentary from the magazine’s stylist lends credibility to the unique looks created which indirectly helps to build interest in Westgate.

3. Wisma Atria in collaboration with Female May 2014 issue


The opening message of this 32-page catalogue ends with the phrase “Be Inspired”, reflecting accurately the defining objective of catalogues today. True to its words, every photo spread in the catalogue goes beyond just listing the outfits worn by models. A setting frames each photo, complete with a commentary for the setting. For example, for a setting named “Loungey Cool”, it is accompanied by this commentary: “Dressing up doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable. Pick cotton and silk for when you want to look chic and relaxed.”


In a section named ‘After Hours’, advertised items are curated around a specific context- in this case, after-work gathering with friends. This gives relevance and meaning to the items and engages the working population which forms the majority of Female readers. Significantly, it plays into the lifestyle aspirations of magazine readers, in this case the after-work social life and the style that goes with it. This is an example of how advertisers can leverage on the profile of the readers of magazines they work with.

Producing and distributing a catalogue is a laborious and costly affair. By working with SPH Magazines, advertisers can also benefit from multiple distribution channels of the magazines, thus widening the reach of their catalogues. Apart from print, the catalogues above were also bundled with the digital editions of the magazines. Advertisers can also opt for their catalogues to be displayed independently from the magazines on the digital newsstand, thus enjoying the same branding and exposure as a standalone product.


‘Her World Singapore Special Issues’ on the digital newsstand                             The Shoppes in collaboration with Her World, June 2014

Interestingly, while print publishers are going into digital solutions including e-commerce to make up for declining print revenue, many major e-commerce retailers are moving into print to market their products. These interesting developments are outcomes of the heightened consciousness that retailers and brands have towards the “consumer journey” and the importance of connecting with them at every point of the journey which spans multiple touchpoints.

SPH Magazines is committed to helping brands connect with consumers at every touchpoint of the consumer journey. Our 360 integrated solutions span across consumer insights, print, online, digital, and events.


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