Apple’s data crackdown has made it more challenging for direct-to-consumer brands to precisely target shoppers on platforms such as Google and Meta, so some have turned to a more analog approach for holiday marketing efforts—catalogs.
Direct mailing has seen a gradual increase over the past few years, with brands incorporating catalogs, postcards and brochures into their marketing strategies to complement social and influencer investments, said Polly Wong, president of DTC marketing agency Belardi Wong.
But that subtle interest surged following Apple’s implementation of its App Tracking Transparency framework in April 2021, which limited how much consumer data platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Instagram could track, and made them less desirable marketing mediums for many brands, Wong said.
Not only are catalogs replacing some digital marketing strategies, but for DTC brands that don’t have a physical footprint, they can also take on the role of a typical brick-and-mortar store, as is the case for Smartwool. The brand is predominantly known for its wool socks and base layers, but it is using catalogs to showcase its broader product selection, including activewear, said Denise Anderson, head of global marketing and creative for Smartwool.
Smartwool produces an annual “big book” holiday catalog with over 36 pages, which allows it to show off its range of products, she said. “We can showcase so many products in a singular marketing piece that consumers don't even know we make,” Anderson said. “And we know they're never going to see 50 products on a website browse. I love catalogs for just the sheer merchandising.”