Reaching Consumers in an Environmentally Responsible Way: The Return of Printed Catalogs (

After a sharp decline in 2020, printed catalogs are coming back in a big way. Market research firm Keypoint Intelligence reports that digital print volumes – the production method for most smaller-run catalogs – has rebounded close to its pre-pandemic level, and demand is expected to soar past pre-pandemic production next year and continue rising at a compound annual rate of 8% through 2025.

Why? As the rising cost of digital advertising increases the cost of acquiring and keeping customers, brands are looking for omnichannel strategies that enhance customer experiences, build loyalty and increase sales. Printed catalogs allow brands to connect with consumers in ways that digital platforms cannot.

The touch, feel and even the smell of catalogs provide a more intimate shopping encounter, and that interaction can be highly personalized thanks to today’s digital printing technology. Catalogs have staying power far beyond a quick scan on a handheld device. And their enticing visual appeal offers a shopping-as-entertainment experience that drives consumers online to learn more, seek additional products and make both online and in-store purchases. At the same time, the ability to target digital advertising has become less precise with the advent of new online privacy policies that allow consumers to opt out of being tracked.

The catalog comeback can also be attributed to brands’ efforts to tap into growing consumer awareness of sustainability and the desire to create a more environmentally friendly, circular economy. These savvy brands are looking beyond simplistic environmental paper calculators and pop culture myths about the environmental sustainability of paper — that it causes deforestation, is a major contributor to climate change, consumes huge amounts of water and generates excessive waste – and instead, are depending on hard, science-based facts to drive their marketing decisions.
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