The Secret Life of Product Catalogs

With the increasing reliance on eCommerce sales, the printed product catalog is become more scarce. However, leading brands understand the often overlooked power of catalogs for brand building and continue to invest in them.

Printed catalogs do things that eCommerce Web sites cannot:

  • High quality printed photos of products and lifestyle photos with sharp detail, in larger size than your laptop or phone screen
  • They remain in constant vision, reminding you of the brand, even when you are not online
  • They are instant access to product info without having to be in front of your computer
  • Millennials are only 15% likely to ignore direct mail, compared to 50% who say they ignore digital ads, according to a report from the U.S. Postal Service
  • Hold viewer attention longer than web sites due to the ease of page flipping without waiting for page loading
  • Catalogs are often shared and viewed by others, compounding their brand building power and product sales.

Here are some examples of our favorite brands that understand the secret power of printed catalogs:



As Deal Design’s client, Reef develops seasonal catalogs for their buyers 3 times a year. The continuous cycle of products, new styles and on-trend branding remind buyers of their success in sales with Reef products and therefore, keeps their title as one of the top selling surf-inspired brands in the US.

Restoration Hardware

This high end furniture company sends out a massive catalog to their exclusive mailing list with high end photography, exquisite design elements, and aesthetically pleasing layouts. This catalog serves as a high quality coffee table reader – not just a spread of products.

Harry & David

When the holiday season comes around, loyal Harry & David customers receive their seasonal catalog with all of their best selling products. For many, this is a visual reminder to order their loved ones or coworkers a holiday gift. This visual reminder boosts sales and increased brand recognition.


Ulta is a leading beauty supply company that is known for mass production of their consumer catalogs.. The thing that makes Ulta stand out among other catalog mailers is their reliance on discounted product prices advertised as ‘on sale’. This deal does not require a coupon. The strategy is uses discount offers to get bargain shoppers in their stores. And let me tell you a not-so-secret, ‘secret’ – bargain shoppers go shopping with other bargain-shopping friends.


This eyewear company provides the ultimate protection of eyewear and gloves for military, law enforcement and civilian market. Their catalogs are created, developed, and designed with their buyer in mind. Each lifestyle photo represents their customer and every description of a product has focused and detailed language. The buyers see the catalog and instantly want to be immersed in the landscape with the models. It is rare to find a catalog that encourages a lifestyle as well as the product itself.

Even though we are in a digital age, the printed page still holds a profound place of importance in marketing. Take your time developing a catalog style that fits your brand – not just a copy of what other brands produce. Be authentic to your brand and your customers will reward you with loyalty. Consider these questions when developing your catalog:

  1. What products most drives your sales? Put them up front!
  2. What products define your brand image? Leverage them to set you apart from competitors.
  3. What experience do you want your customer have while flipping through your catalogs pages? Think of your catalog like a movie or novel that tells a story.
  4. How can your products reflect a lifestyle? People want to live a lifestyle first, and then select products that support that lifestyle, second.
  5. Need some help developing a catalog worthy of your brand? We are here to help.

Contact Deal Design for a catalog design that builds your brand and drives sales!

Terra Deal

Author Terra Deal

More posts by Terra Deal

Leave a Reply