Beyond the Full-Line Catalog

In recent years, major brands have discontinued their massive print catalogs that were historically valued for their “thud effect” in favor of lightweight, digital alternatives. In fact, just a couple months ago Neiman Marcus, which was well-known for its extensive print program, announced that their famous Fall catalog would be replaced with a digital experience called Neiman’s State of Mind

We’re also seeing this trend in the promotional products industry as suppliers are getting more strategic around content marketing and thinking beyond their annual full-line catalogs. And, the best part of this approach is that it’s exactly what distributors want and end-users need. Why? Because smaller, more targeted pieces can be a much more effective tool when it comes to sales.

While not everyone may use your “Back to School” or “Summer is Coming!” lookbooks, those that do have a specific purpose. They’ll share it with a highly targeted audience that will be much more motivated to buy the featured products.

It’s the classic case of quality over quantity. You’d prefer to have a few highly motivated and engaged viewers browsing and sharing a catalog filled with products that fit their immediate needs, rather than end-buyers from all walks of life flipping through a catalog that holds every product you offer and the majority have no relevance.

So, when planning your catalogs for 2021…think beyond your full-line catalogs. Your catalog should not simply be a reference guide of everything you offer with countless product specs. Tell a story that motivates distributors and helps them envision how their buyers could leverage the items. Likewise, end-users should be inspired by the content and how recipients will make a piece of branded merchandise part of their everyday lives.

Your niche catalog action plan:

  • Start by identifying some niche markets, categories, or audiences.
  • Outline product use cases that apply to each target.
  • Pick 3-5 relevant themes that would work as a lookbook and carefully curate a cohesive selection of your products.
  • Develop your content strategy to ensure both distributors and end-users will be inspired to action.

Every great campaign starts with an idea! Here are a few to get you going:

Example #1: An apparel supplier that markets a broad variety of polos, t-shirts, and caps knows they are currently selling a lot of comfortable and functional activewear to companies with remote employees. A lookbook targeting this trend would be effective in the new normal. Niche Catalog: The Work from Home Uniform. 

Example #2: A supplier that has a wide variety of tech accessories realizes many of their distributors are branding the gadgets for companies that are giving them to teenagers. The supplier could create a niche catalog for this audience. Teens want what is trendy, what their friends are using, and they’d be excited to share a product in their next TikTok. Niche Catalog: Top Tech Trends for Teens.

Example #3: A hard goods supplier offers different types of drinkware products. They could build breakout catalogs for each major category. For example, knowing travel tumblers are most often used by people heading to work, relevant lifestyle photography and product highlights would result in a powerful sales tool for distributors. Niche Catalog: On-the-Go Drinkware.