Catalog Printing–An Evolving Market Thrives

R.R. Donnelley continues to enhance its role as an on-line facilitator. Its Premedia Technologies business, created two years ago, boasts an on-line services component. The company is active in Website design and content management to aid catalogers in repurposing content. The result: Customers are creating more robust Websites and driving more business to those sites.

Lawler points out that many Internet companies, in searching for ways to attract more traffic, are turning to ink-on-paper solutions such as catalogs—now known as “Netalogs.” This cross-pollination is a market that is coming into its own.

“It’s something we’re going to see more and more of—smaller books—just to familiarize their customers with the Websites and to get them to go there,” he remarks. “It doesn’t seem to be affecting the size of bigger books, where the brand name is already established and where people know who they are. We’re likely to see an increase in the number of catalog, or Netalog, shoppers in the years ahead.”

Life may be sweet at, or near, the top for large printers, but 1999 meant a year of mixed results for many catalogers, according to Susan McIntyre, president of McIntyre Direct, a catalog consulting firm based in Portland, OR. For the most part, she says, those who did their homework thrived.

“Many small- to mid-sized catalogers who carefully studied their marketplace, and excelled at targeting their brand and merchandise to their audience, did extremely well,” she says. “But some, often larger, catalogers who didn’t track changing markets, and kept offering the same old thing, saw weaker results and pulled back. I’d say 1999 wasn’t a license to earn money or to lose it—results depend on merit.”

McIntyre feels three factors merit a watchful eye as 2000 approaches:

  • Catalogers will keep dealing with the Internet, “which will keep puzzling everybody by working differently for different products and audiences,” she says.

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