J.C. Penney brings back its catalog

January 20, 2015 11:51 AM

Print catalogs are back at J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

The multichannel retailer, No. 37 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, will issue a 120-page catalog in March. The catalog will be similar to the mailing the retailer sent out prior to 2012, when then-CEO Ron Johnson overhauled J.C. Penney’s marketing approach, which included discontinuing the retailer’s catalog, in an attempt to drive shoppers into stores.

J.C. Penney is returning to direct mail in an effort to entice shoppers to browse its wide-ranging selection. “Customers still like flipping through a traditional print piece, particularly when it comes to looking at home merchandise,” a spokeswoman says. The retailer envisions most shoppers going online or into stores to buy items they discover in the catalog.  

J.C. Penney is hardly alone among large multichannel merchants in using print catalogs to entice shoppers to buy online or in stores. That’s because direct mail gives retailers a relatively unobtrusive way to reach consumers, says Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research Inc. vice president, principal analyst. “While people tend to get annoyed by mail from nonprofits and credit card solicitations, they don’t have the same reaction to direct marketing from retailers,” she says. “Direct mail gives retailers a different way to tell a story or get attention than a banner ad.”

The numbers bear that out: 79% of households say they either read or scan retailers’ advertising mail, while only 51% look at credit card solicitations, according to the 2012 U.S. Postal Service “Household Diary Study.”




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