by Donna M. Airoldi | March 30, 2012
In a world that’s increasingly going digital, is there still a place for print catalogs? Industry experts  differ on this issue. 

Derek Irvine, vice president of client strategy for Globoforce, says his company hasn’t once offered a print catalog in its 12 years of operations.

“It’s probably been at least 18 months since anyone asked ‘can we please have a print catalog.’ They’re not necessary anymore,” says Scott Siewert, vice president of sales for US Motivation. Instead, the company offers an online catalog in flash that looks like a print product, with electronic page turns, and allows for clients to highlight different popular items. 

Print catalogs, though, are still an important part of the communication mix for some companies. 

“Everyone wants to go paperless, but we absolutely use print catalogs, and they’re part of our main communications strategy,” says Noelle Torella, gift card operations supervisor for Rymax, Inc. “Not everyone has access to a computer at all times, and a physical catalog reminds participants of the program and to redeem for their reward.”

They’re also popular for holidays or special events, like back-to-school time.

“While we’re definitely migrating toward online catalogs for many reasons—such as improved user experience and reduced costs—print catalogs remain relevant for certain segments,” says Rami El-Zeini, vice president of client services for Aimia (formerly Carlson Marketing). “We see a huge spike in fourth quarter redemptions after we send out our printed holiday catalog.”

Essentially, as with most elements of incentive programs, the choice between digital or print catalogs depends on what the client wants.

“We send out over 125 million catalogs a year,” says Colleen Dorwart, loyalty project manager, gift cards, for Cabela’s. “We believe in a blend of print and digital communications to make sure we’re reaching out to customers in a way they want to be marketed to. It goes back to customer experience. The trick is finding the right balance.”