Who even reads catalogues anymore? This statement has surely come from many a millennial’s mouth, and since they know everything worth knowing about technology – should we be listening to them? Or do the “younger generations” simply not see that advertising, in any form, still makes the world go around?

We’re surely all aware that the millions of messages, ads, images and slogans that we are blasted with on the street, on our phones, online and in magazines all contribute to a subconscious patchwork of content that we soak up. Whether we realise we’re taking it all in or not, advertising is all pervasive – and it still works. If it didn’t, there would be no beauty or fashion industry, no trade in ridiculous knick-knacks that no one has a real use for but are extremely aesthetically pleasing (like throw pillows – who doesn’t have them in their home, yet what are they actually used for?!), and infomercials wouldn’t convince millions of stay-at-home parents and retirees that they really do need this amazing stainless steel knife set that’s made from rare, crushed Peruvian crystals, yet is only $49.99! 

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Ads, in every form, sell

Whether you believe you’re above such petty tactics that induce a need to have whatever item it is that could “MAKE YOUR LIFE 10 TIMES BETTER!”, chances are you have, at some point, purchased things you have no use for and that remain at the back of the cupboard, hoping to be re-gifted so that you don’t feel like you threw money into the wind.

So, if you have a business you know that the end goal, the main aim, is to get people to buy your product. Obviously to do so - you’ll need to advertise. The sway in recent years had undoubtedly been toward online platforms – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and websites have risen significantly in popularity due to their ease of access and the impressive way they can be viewed from anywhere, at any time. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘for the first time, over half of businesses in the Retail trade industry (59%) have a web presence, while 56% have a social media presence.’ However, this doesn’t mean we should be neglecting older forms of advertising. Maybe we should be paying more close attention to them.

The nostalgia associated with reading a newspaper or having a catalogue delivered in the mail isn’t something to gawk at. Older generations are (perhaps inaccurately represented as so) rebelling against new technologies, so there will always be an audience for print. You could even point out that younger generations too are harking back to a simpler time. Print material holds a new level of significance to hipsters as it represents an age where we had the freedom to sit down and actually read something – not a blog, or a status update – something real and tangible, that symbolises a workforce of people collaborating and creating products for the enjoyment of others. How often, when we think about online content, do we imagine the people who actually sat there and created the code, edited the images and laboured over the graphics? 

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When it’s there, in your hands, next to your morning coffee, it’s real. And there’s something to be said for that, in a world full of photoshop.

According to the Australasian Catalogue Association’s 2017 Annual Report, ‘no other media compares with the reach of letterbox marketing’. As businesses become more educated and targeted in their approach to key distribution markets, catalogue advertising has sustained its readership, ‘stamping its position as the strongest performer across many sectors in the consumer’s Path to Purchase journey’. Print advertising is so well established, it’s hard to argue that it won’t remain a popular form of marketing.

So where do we go from here? Well, we can stop being so flippant about the effects of marketing and cease the bad-mouthing of print advertising and catalogues. Even if you skim across it as you grab it from the letterbox, then use it to line your cat’s litter box or stoke the fire, print material has the power to influence in those first 20-second glances, or the more thorough read. Catalogues, newspapers, flyers and printed ads are here to stay – and they’re worth our attention. In fact, they can work with online platforms to increase reach for businesses, as old and new advertising comes together for the future. 

As business entrepreneur Henry Ford said,

‘stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.’

So, let’s keep going, keep collaborating, keep creating, and keep advertising. The people are waiting.