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Victoria’s Secret shreds catalog as millennials increasingly go mobile

The company announced during its recent earnings call that the catalog will cease production for all brands. The commitment was likely derived from its younger audience’s tendency to shop or search products on mobile devices, and from research that showed the catalog had a lack of impact on sales.

“Catalogs are becoming archaic and have a very short shelf life,” said Carrie McIlveen, U.S. director of marketing at Metia. “Shoppers have strongly adopted mobile ecommerce and the trend is not slowing down.

“Many rely on social influence and digital word of mouth, and others are looking for 24-7 convenience and instant gratification,” she said. “The rise may be fueled by consumers being incredibly engaged on social media platforms.

“In a digital area, paper catalogs are becoming a thing of the past. L Brands appears to have done their data and insights research thoroughly. They have listened to their client, understand shoppers’ wants, and now they are evolving to deliver a valued experience (online), plus the cost savings is a huge factor.”

Catalog retirement
The drastic decision to retire the Victoria’s Secret catalog was prompted through rigorous testing in specific markets through a trial-run elimination. Results showed no impact on sales, which led L Brands to get rid of the catalog altogether.

Since the rise of mobile and social media has created a retail atmosphere in which consumers are increasingly needy and searching for instant gratification, the catalog has become more and more irrelevant. L Brands has been progressively scaling back on its printed media content as to not intrude on its loyal shoppers.

L Brands also thought about the decision in terms of a modern-day business. So many startups are successful today because they are not rooted in long-time business models that are currently irrelevant.

The brand thought about it in terms of it they were starting today, would they have a catalog. The answer is likely no, as so many new brands have risen solely on digital with no print presence.

Mobile integration
While the catalog era is diminishing, there is still room for brands to engage and drive sales with consumers if correctly done. It is vital to integrate a mobile call-to-action and digital integration with catalogs in today’s current market to be successful.

For instance, British department store chain House of Fraser is ramping up the mobile shopping experience by updating its iOS applications to include scan-to-explore features such as 3D product reviews, videos, music, shoppable lookbooks and recipes (see more).

Victoria’s Secret did dive into mobile integration a bit by adding a component to its digitally enabled catalogs that entices consumers to take a quiz to see their ideal bra size, type and fit, boosting its mobile merchandising capabilities in time for last year’s Valentine’s Day (see more).

“While catalogs continue to be that ‘proactive tap on the shoulder’ mobile can also play that role with campaigns that nudge using email, texts, NFC and app notifications,” said Lois Brayfield, chief engagement officer at J.Schmid and Associates. “This will be huge for retailers if used wisely.

“On the positive side, if catalogers begin to embrace the mobile phenomena that is dramatically changing our world, and the way in which consumers interact with brands, there could be incredible upside,” she said. “Understanding the customer decision path is critical to success.

“We already know that customers that interact with multiple tactics have higher value so using the combination of mail and mobile as a part of an overall campaign has huge potential.”