Catalog Trends

Print Catalogs Are A Cost-Effective Marketing Tool That Consumers Enjoy

Catalogs are here to stay. As they have evolved over the last decade into high-end booklets packed with the power of story, catalogs prove again and again to be an indispensable part of the retail and wholesale marketing mix.

What’s behind the continued use of catalogs?

Skyrocketing online advertising costs. 

In 2021, a large US marketing agency reported to Forbes that online advertising had skyrocketed for their clients—primarily big-name retailers. Cost per 1,000 viewers (CPM) increased by 89% in April, 69% in May, and 42% in June across such platforms as Meta (previously known as Facebook), Google, Apple, Pinterest, and Instagram. AdSkate reported in May 2022 that costs have simply kept rising. 

  • Meta’s CPM has increased 61% year over year, averaging $17.60.
  • TikTok’s CPM has increased 185% year over year, averaging $9.40/CPM.
  • Google’s programmatic display CPM has increased 75% year over year. Meanwhile, search ad CPC (cost-per-click) increased by 14% year over year.
  • Instagram’s CPM has increased 23% year over year.

And costs per click tend to increase further during the fourth quarter, which is crucial to retailers’ bottom line. Companies can’t be sure they will get their money’s worth from online advertising, so they turn to a more diverse marketing mix.

Catalogs ‘fill a retail therapy niche.’

Last holiday season, NBC News reported that consumers were weary of being on their phones and computers after pandemic restrictions rounded a second year. Older consumers enjoyed the nostalgia of grabbing a catalog or two out of the mailbox box and relaxing into the curated experience rather than searching online for something. Younger consumers tend to appreciate a high-quality catalog with some personality, a clear values message, and engaging storytelling.

Hamilton Davison, American Catalog Mailers Association president, said millennials “have an affinity for flipping pages”—much like shopping for LPs or browsing for vintage furniture. “One of the big surprises is that millennials find great value in catalogs,” he said to NBC News, citing recent research into catalog trends. “The internet feels too much like work.”

Catalogs that function as gift guides, contain rich editorial content, or appear similar to lifestyle magazines tend to increase their popularity.

How can today’s retailers create a catalog that pays?

Integrate technology.

Smart retailers use a multi-channel marketing approach, which means that they integrate online, in-store, and print marketing products, each to complement the others.

Print catalogs make it easy to ingrate technology and personalize to the recipient simultaneously. Catalogs will either send people to the store or online to buy. Make the online bridge seamless and powerful by incorporating personalized URLs or QR codes for online shoppers to take them directly to your website while providing information about their buying habits. 

Be sure both your online and brick-and-mortar stores are stocked with the items in your catalog, and consider a strong BOPIS/BOPAC/BORIS plan for the holiday season. Consumer expectations around Buy Online Pick-up In Store, Buy Online Pick-up At Curbside, and Buy Online Return In Store are only increasing. Your catalog can provide a gateway and detailed information about these services, further easing the shopping experience.

Above all, be flexible.

With continued paper shortages, you may find that to get your catalog out on time, you have to pivot from an all-encompassing 100-page book detailing every product to a 36-page booklet highlighting categories, seasonal products, or personalized content for the reader. You may have to consider changing the paper grade or the finish if certain stock becomes available or runs short. Be ready to pivot on the details so the bigger picture can move forward and out to your customers—a strong, eye-catching print catalog that sells your products for you. 

The good news is Consolidated Press is in great shape and well-stocked. We are also experienced in working closely to make materials and services swaps that work for the product and never compromise quality. Mailing is a snap for us, and we have access to the best rates available.

Whatever your catalog plans may be, we can help you print and mail the product that’s perfect for your customers.

With our efficient presses and professional staff, we can help you steward your resources while creating important print products that benefit everyone. Let us help you—reach out today!

Government Printing

The Power of the (Printing) Press to Make Information Equitable, Timely, and Useful to Everyone

Government Agencies and Municipalities Rely on Print

Municipalities and government agencies produce a lot of print publications, and for a good reason—they are responsible for educating citizens. By law, they need to make certain publications available to everyone, regardless of whether they have internet access. 

Think voter’s pamphlets and, in Washington state, the ballots themselves. Municipal recreation center program catalogs. Transit schedules, walking maps. Driver’s guides. There are fliers and brochures at every public office in dozens of languages represented in any major city. Transit Schedule

Governments are also required to seek citizen input on new developments and major projects. They require diversity and volume of input from citizens on projects such as bridge construction, new highways, and public spaces that are coming online. Zoning changes and redevelopments need public buy-in to move forward. A public involvement team is often brought in specifically to do this outreach, and printed communications or publications are essential.

Direct Mail Reaches Each Household

Direct mail is also vital for municipalities and contractors specializing in government outreach. Each year, updated recycling brochures are mailed out to every person who gets services. Changes in water, gas and electricity rates come through the mail. Every homeowner is mailed a value assessment on their house periodically. 

Recently, the pandemic has compelled governments to disseminate critical public health information to huge populations as quickly as possible. 

All of this information is printed to reach the most diverse and complete group of constituents.

Consolidated Press Specializes in Government Projects for Several Reasons

  • We have enormous capacity on our web presses. We can run thousands of pieces in a short period of time. Because we work at scale, we can nimbly produce essential publications very cost-effectively right when they are needed.
  • We are experts at getting your direct mail to citizens and employees quickly and inexpensively. We create and mail announcement postcards, parks and recreation catalogs, visitor’s guides, regional newsletters, and more. We can work with you on paper choices and other tweaks that create a lighter, less expensive, yet attractive and useful piece.
  • Some pieces are just workhorses, and they need to be durable for months or years to come. Books, manuals, catalogs, guides, directories, curricula, and collections of regulations can all be perfect bound into books of any size at Consolidated Press. Optical cameras on our presses confirm quality and placement, so even nondescript projects look professional and hold up for years.
  • Even public documents deserve their privacy. We understand that government information is sensitive and timely. We protect your information from public view until its designated release time and treat each project as highly confidential.

We believe in the power of the (printing) press to make information equitable, timely, and useful to everyone. Contact us today to start reaching your citizens tomorrow.

Paper Demand Creates A Need to Strategize

Paper and packaging manufacturing are feeling the squeeze as demand for printed goods continues to outpace the supply of paper. It’s a sign that industries are recovering from the pandemic, but what does it mean for consumers? Consolidated Press is ahead of the curve with a healthy supply of materials in stock, and we want to share just a few tips and tricks that will come in handy for our clients who purchase printed goods. Our goal is to help you save time, money and more than a few headaches in the future.  

Plan Ahead 

Preschedule the print jobs you know are on the horizon, particularly as we enter the crucial holiday catalog season. If you can provide your print service provider with estimates of the number of projects, materials needed, and page counts, they can, in turn, place supply orders now for paper goods to have in stock at a later date.  

What’s Happening 

There are critical shortages in the supply chain required for the manufacturing of paper. International imports of paper are at a lower volume than normal forcing domestic mills to try to pick up the slack. COVID-19 protocols and short-staffing are also causing slowdowns in production cycles and port operations across the globe. This perfect storm of circumstances leaves inventory low for many paper suppliers. It also means that paper prices are increasing.  

How We Can Help 

We constantly manage our customer expectations and make every effort to not disappoint anyone or delay work unnecessarily because of supply shortages.  

  • Work with your sales rep to identify projects well in advance 
  • Be creative about the size, shape, or type of paper you’re using for your printed piece to help with both supply and costs 
  • Consolidate projects into one print run to save time, money and paper 
  • Target or segment your audience for greater impact at a reduced volume 
  • Look at other printing options like roll-to-sheet versus sheetfed 

The road to economic recovery will have a few speed bumps along the way, but we’ll get through this together. Ultimately, the temporary supply shortages are a sign that more and more companies are investing in the future of commerce, and that’s a win for all of us. Know that we have your back and, when in doubt, pick up the phone to discuss your options for print success with Consolidated Press 

 

 

Printed Books Trend Upward in Sales Post-Pandemic

Hot off the presses: as we head into the post-pandemic era, print book publishing is picking up where it left off — skyrocketing in sales and popularity. As print books trend upward in sales post-pandemic, publishers need printers to rely on for speed and flexibility. 

Print is on Trend

The New York Times wrote, “Sales of digital books fell 3.6 percent to $1.02 billion in 2018, a third straight decline, while hardback sales rose 6.9 percent to $3.06 billion and paperback sales 1.1 percent to $2.67 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers.”

In January 2020, The Association of American Publishers reported that total book sales were $12.57 billion year-to-date in 2019. The growth was an increase of 3.6% over the previous year. Printed books continued to dominate the consumer publications category, accounting for $751.0 million, or 80% of the category’s $938.7 million in revenue. Paperback books saw the most growth, once again, climbing 11.0%. Professional publishing also jumped.

While book sales initially dropped off in early 2020, they began to tick upward in the spring and ended the year strong with print sales rising 8.2% over 2019, the most significant annual increase since 2005, and the print total of 751 million units sold was the highest since 2009. An increase in online sales drove numbers up, and online sales are projected to continue strong through 2021.

Printed Pages Produce Better Comprehension

Several recent studies have reviewed digital books and education materials vs. paper. According to the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit newsroom focused on education that examined these studies, reading on paper trumps reading on screens regarding comprehension and student preference.

The Right Partner Can Make the Difference

Let’s get your titles flying off the shelf,  What does all this mean for today’s book publishers and the way they work with printers? Here are the key takeaways:

The era of printed books is not over. It’s on the uprise, so finding a reputable, flexible, high-capacity printer like Consolidated Press to keep up with publishing demands is crucial.

Time and again, learning and comprehension are reported to be better on paper than with digital for a variety of reasons, which research is still uncovering. In the meantime, book publishers can rely on a powerhouse printer like Consolidated Press to increase efficiency and cost competitiveness to meet the demand for more printed books.

Independent bookstores are increasing their margins with gifts, consumables, events, and more. As a result, publishers don’t need to slash prices to be competitive. The boutique environment is also an incentive to experiment with bolder designs and visual impact to stand out on a shelf.

Sales of e-books are down and audiobooks are up. E-books compete primarily with paper books; audiobooks compete with music, podcasts, radio, and other paid audio media. Some publishers have adopted a digital-first strategy and need a printer that can nimbly print books on demand.

Paperback books continue to see explosive growth. You can depend on CP’s equipment to precisely print crucial information and images, perfect binding each piece with optical cameras confirming quality and placement. We ship straight from our warehouse, offering the most accurate addressing and cost-effective mailing available.

Whether on-demand or on a schedule, textbook or trade paperback, CP can meet today’s book printing market demands and exceed publisher expectations for quality, speed, value, and flexibility every time.

Consolidated Press is one for the books. Call or click today to start our valuable partnership in printing.

 

Use These Best Practices for your Next Direct Mail Campaign

(Spoiler alert: Hiring an expert in printing and mailing covers ALL the bases!)

Not only is direct mail a great way to engage with your customers, but it also offers a powerful return on investment. Direct mail provides measurable results that generate leads, especially when using branded visuals, a solid call to action, and integration with your digital marketing campaign elements. Recent statistics reinforce the high impact advantages when communicating with direct mail compared to email and other electronic solicitations.

Did you know?

As consumers begin to flood the marketplace again, now is the time to put your brand messaging where it makes the most impact — right on their doorstep. But time is money, and the use of best practices for printing and mailing ensures a powerfully effective campaign that fits your budget.

Consider these pathways to success:

Hire an Expert

Direct mail is a complex endeavor. Between branding, designing, copywriting, printing, data management, versioning, sorting, scheduling, storing, mailing, returns, and measuring success, you have a full-time job on your hands with a direct mail campaign. A full-service printer with a consultative approach like Consolidated Press can walk you through each and every step and then replicate it for the next mailing, ensuring brand standards and clean lists.

Weigh Less, Pay Less

Paper stocks, embellishments, special coatings, coupons, return mailers, and other specialty items can add up, and mailing with efficiency means traveling light. But some projects call for high-end stock, unique finishes, and stand-out enhancements. Ask your expert to show you what items you need to maximize your investment and to help you choose the right paper and finishes for your project.

Panels, Tabs, and Size Restrictions, Oh My!

Direct mail through the United States Postal Service is a tricky business — and a highly regulated one. Your mailer needs to be the appropriate size and weight, a specific number of panels and tabbed or glued to meet USPS regulations. The specifications are vast. If you don’t believe us, look here to dive into the seemingly endless details of mailing. Never mind, don’t do that. Consolidated Press has a massive mailing program all designed to seamlessly and painlessly work within the postal system.

Have Some Class

The USPS delivers mail at several rates or classes, determined by the client’s needs and purpose of the mailing. Most often, you’ll be using USPS Marketing Mail, which, for beginning mailers, is often the best choice because postage prices are very low. According to the agency, mailers use USPS Marketing Mail to send:

  • Printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising
  • Newsletters, bulletins, and catalogs
  • Small parcels

All USPS Marketing Mail prices are bulk prices, and each mailing must meet a minimum quantity of 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail. There is no single-piece USPS Marketing Mail postage. In USPS Marketing Mail, there are prices for letters, flats/large envelopes, parcels, marketing parcels, and Parcel Select Lightweight parcels. There’s more where that came from, but you don’t need to get into the weeds — you need to ask your expert. 

Consolidated Press, by the way, knows all this stuff and more. 

When you need expert advice on printing and mailing with a consultative approach to your project, call or click Consolidated Press to determine how they can put the pieces into place.

 

Embellished Direct Mail Discounts with USPS

Take advantage of direct mail with CP’s specialty print capabilities

Direct mail is an effective marketing strategy—year after year, the statistics tell the tale. A personal, targeted approach integrated with online purchasing and engagement is irresistible to many consumers.

At the same time, the costs of mailing and paper continue to rise, and organizations need the return on their marketing investments to be above average and consistent. Fortunately, the United States Postal Service has our backs. 

The USPS Mailing Promotions and Incentive Programs are designed to help marketers, printers, and mailers increase customer engagement and response rates with their mail pieces. Through July 31, the USPS will be offering 4% off eligible postage on mail pieces that encourage sensory engagement. The Tactile, Sensory & Interactive (TSI) Promotion leverages the technological advances the print industry has been steadily innovating.

From the USPS TSI Promotions Requirements and registration site:

The print industry has been actively innovative not only in print production equipment but the fundamental elements of the mail itself through new developments in papers/stocks, substrates, finishing techniques, and inks. These elements can be incorporated to engage a multi-sensory experience through special visual effects, sound, scent, texture/tactile treatments, and even taste! In addition, interactive mailpiece features (such as pop-ups, infinite folds, or other dimensional treatments) can also help drive a marketer’s customer’s engagement.

Neuroscience and neuromarketing research supports the potentially significant impact on brand recognition and message recall when marketing materials engage tactile experiences and/or senses. By leveraging the physical aspects of the mailpiece as well as the advances in print technology, marketers can enhance how their consumers interact and engage with mail

New technology and print techniques can enhance the traditional benefits of a physical mail piece and give higher response rates and an increase in overall return on investment. Three categories are featured in this promotion:

  • Specialty Inks
  • Specialty Paper
  • Interactive elements

Here is where Consolidated Press can step in with its vast capabilities in soft-touch, hybrid UV printing, vibrant inks, and specialty paper. CP is a leader in stunning yet economical direct mail from magazines to catalogs, directories, newsletters, promotional mail. We also are seasoned mailing experts. In addition to working with you to capitalize on USPS promotions, we can analyze your files and provide postal logistics planning and strategy, often leading to bulk discounts and increasing your crucial marketing ROI.

Contact us today to start your tactile, sensory, or interactive direct mail campaign. We would love to put your project first.