Mail order catalogs have been around as long as the U.S. Postal Service itself.
And catalogs actually predate the popular federal service.
Appropriately, Benjamin Franklin, considered the founder of the Postal Service,™ is also believed to have been the first cataloguer in the United States. In 1744, he formulated the basic mail order concept when he produced a catalog that sold scientific and academic books.
Amid the longevity, however, catalogs have radically evolved and continue to do so today.
Moosejaw, a popular outdoor retailer known for its wacky marketing, is also on the forefront of technology and has helped usher in a breed of supercatalogs that continue to make mail’s message stronger. The multichannel outdoor retailer has reached new heights in attracting and engaging customers.
“We always strive to be notable in all of our marketing — it should be something that people tell 10 friends about. We call this our ‘madness,’” says Eoin Comerford, president and CEO of Moosejaw.
Moosejaw is noted for not only providing sales information to customers but getting them to respond, sometimes in rather quirky ways — including the use of humor.
For example, its recent Foot Fetish Campaign asked people to send in sexy photos of shoes. The responses included a myriad of pictures of male and female footwear located next to each other or positioned in more provocative ways.
The success of its campaigns skyrocketed when Moosejaw added augmented reality (AR) to its catalog arsenal.
“We have used AR with two catalogs,” notes Comerford. “Our November 2011 X-Ray catalog allowed users to use a custom smartphone app to ‘see through’ our model’s clothing to see them in underwear. For our May 2012 Sweaty and Wet catalog, the AR app turned the catalog into a water gun that they could use to wet down a model that appears beside them.”
He says direct mail is a key tool for Moosejaw.
“It helps us reach customers that we don’t have an e-mail address for,” explains Comerford. “Our results show responses increase 36% to 97% per customer when they receive a direct mail piece.”
Direct mail with augmented reality can be tracked, so companies can obtain app download data in addition to traditional response data. The pieces also have an extended shelf life because people keep them to access the augmented reality experience in the future.
Ron Drenning, managing director for DirectMail2Go for Taylor Corporation, says augmented reality is a natural successor to barcodes and QR Codes. But AR does more. It takes a giant step forward in personalizing information for consumers.
“AR and direct mail can work together very well,” says Drenning. “AR is in its infancy stage; I don’t think anyone knows all of the lengths to which it can go.”
It works by placing augmented reality codes on mailers that are scanned with a webcam on a computer or a cellphone. Scanning turns a flat marketing piece into a three-dimensional color video.
For example, he says, you could send an augmented reality code to a person buying a theater ticket and the individual could see in 3-D exactly what his view is from a particular seat.
Or, you could have an augmented reality code that showed the interior of a car. The code would allow the customer to access detailed information. The individual could choose and see interior colors and styles geared specifically to his tastes, Drenning says.
With continuous innovations, catalogs appear in good hands and marketers are eagerly anticipating the next industry breakthrough.
Interested in implementing augmented reality in your own catalog? Check out these tips from Gary Wohlfeill, creative director for Moosejaw.Creativity, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Printing, Technology, Trends