One day, AI will save the paper catalogue

Published on 03/08/20

Jugés coûteux, rigides et de moins en moins adaptés à notre monde numérique, l’imprimé et le catalogue papier se sont retrouvés par certains bien vite enterrés. Pourtant, ils résistent ! Avec raison d’ailleurs, puisque désormais dopés à l’intelligence artificielle et à la data, ils conjuguent personnalisation de l’expérience et plaisir de feuilleter. Et si c’était ça le meilleur des deux mondes ?

Has data driven marketing killed paper?

Just as we either like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, Ketchup or Mayonnaise, it could have been Digital or Print! This either/or effect structured the advertising market and helped to decide where brands and retailers would invest. Although digital has slashed the use of paper, it still remains widely used.  Last year, in France alone, almost 20 billion printed items dropped through nearly 25 million letter boxes in France. The figure is in stark contrast to the so-called ‘death of print’. It remains one of consumers favourite media. 81% of French people are in favour and 70% consult it very regularly. So, no, data has not killed off paper. On the contrary, it has brought it into the 21st century!

Data driven personalised catalogues

We already knew that data could help us to manage our wardrobes, now it can help us dream on glossy paper. It was in 2018 that the ready-to-wear brand CYRILLUS hit the headlines by launching an experiment never before seen on the global stage: the 100% personalised paper catalogue. This made to measure ‘smartalogue’ was created using data relating to each customer’s journey: purchase history, online activity, shopping…everything they knew about the customer was used for this operation. As a result, of the 100,000 catalogues printed, 80,000 were personalised. In 2020, it’s another ready-to-wear brand that has chosen to mix AI and catalogues. LA BLANCHE PORTE, the fashion and home deco label, tested a whole new catalogue on a sample of 50,000 clients in their fifties.

Data, digital and paper: the new marketing mix?

In a 60 page catalogue, 18 are fully personalised. From the cover which has the client’s name, to the range of products chosen by the AI, and including special editorial content (horoscope, key events from the client’s year of birth), everything has been done to create a unique eye-catching item. Even better, the catalogue is designed to link to the retailer’s website. QR codes are set out on certain pages to invite the customer to find more choice on the website and a quiz on the theme of ‘which style suits you best?’ also directs the customer to the site with suggestions for suitable outfits. What if that was the catalogue of the future?

Data driven marketing is printing new customer experiences!

Personalised and now digitalised, the catalogue has gone from being a static medium to a connected one, and from being a symbol of mass marketing to a good example of personalisation. While it’s still too early to judge the commercial success of this kind of scheme, its very existence demonstrates the possibilities to come. Having shed the simple function of imparting information (everything is now on the web), print is now opening up a dimension capable of surprising, making people dream and, undoubtedly, developing customer commitment. AI and catalogues, friends for life!

The Main Think

In the digital age, paper still has a bright future ahead! The proof is in the digital data that now allows catalogues to be carefully personalised to (re)create a connection with the customer. What fun to open the letterbox!

Crédit photo ; iStock, Castorama, Cyrillus