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When Should I Send My Catalog?

mailboxes filled with mailers and catalogs

Catalogs can help introduce new customers to your brand and give previous ones a look at new product lines. However, choosing the right time to send them could mean the difference between your new fall look sitting on someone’s coffee table or in the trash can. We studied three different brands, each successful in their respective industries, to offer up some insights on setting up your catalog distribution schedule for maximum efficiency.

Dean & Deluca

Industry: Food

Release Schedule: Seasonally

Dean & Deluca’s catalogs are well known in the foodie world. With mouthwatering photography, sharp copy and easy-to-peruse pages, the brand draws you in and leaves you hungry for more. While their online store is regularly updated, their physical catalogs are sent out at the beginning of each season, and each issue arrives packed with new photos, recipes and products that are perfectly paired with their respective time of year.

Key Takeaway:

If you’re in the food industry, focus your catalog release schedule around the seasonality of your food and the accompanying holidays. Focusing on common trends is a great idea, too. Summer barbecues, Christmas hams and Thanksgiving turkeys are always big sellers around their respective months but, while Christmas in July may be a thing in certain circles, there are probably very few people craving hot apple cider during the dog days of summer. Keep your products, photography and tone consistent with the time of year.


Industry: Apparel/Footwear

Release Schedule: Quarterly, with special editions for collaborations

What began as a small apparel shop in 2011 has become a burgeoning, modern lifestyle brand that stretches from designer shoes to gourmet cups of ice cream. Always a brand to live close to the edge, Kith has partnered with brands that range from Cap’n Crunch to Reebok to bring unique apparel that tows the line between nostalgic and nouveau. While not available in physical form, Kith’s “lookbooks”—collections of apparel and accessories that show the range of available products and offer real-life examples of how to mix and match them—are released regularly as fashion seasons begin and new collaborations are finalized. These books let the sales take a backseat in order to introduce a more narrative approach to fashion, which helps to familiarize customers with the personality and tone of the brand.

Key Takeaway:

While brick-and-mortar stores are great for seeing how clothes fit and look in different combinations, everyone may not have access to one of your locations. A lookbook is a great way for long-distance shoppers to see real-life examples of the new products you offer and, with great photography and a lot of options, you can help bring that potential to life for your customers without requiring they buy a plane ticket. Each season and collaboration brings about new possibilities (and a new lookbook), which give you ample space to play and flex your fashion muscles.


Industry: Home Decor

Release Schedule: Quarterly

If you haven’t heard of Wayfair, just know that, if some small accessory or item is missing from your home that could really tie the room together, chances are you’ll find it there. The home decor titan owns multiple product lines and brands and touts “zillions of items” as being available on its website in a wide range of budgets and styles. While offering only a small percentage of those items in each of its 92-page spreads, the company doesn’t focus on only showing you the latest items to hit its online shelves; instead, it utilizes purchasing data and its own proprietary algorithm to showcase furniture it knows consumers want to see. This means that, in each issue, you’re not only receiving the newest but also the most sought-after pieces of furniture available at Wayfair straight to your door in an easy-to-digest format that offers free shipping and other deals not always available on the website.

Key Takeaway:

In all things marketing, data is key. While simply showing your customers new products may build interest, utilizing purchasing and trend data can give you an incredibly competitive advantage—and allow you to offer a curated experience that could net you some serious results. If you’re just starting out and don’t have the purchasing history, consider conducting some marketing research and gathering customer data earlier to build out an effective database.  

Knowing when to send out your catalogs is important, and following the example of companies that have been successful at it is definitely a great start. But before you ever slap some postage on a book, you’ll need a killer design and some good photography. Ready to get started, but need some help? Reach out to us. We’ll make sure your catalog is a real page turner.