I was once responsible for the first ever international catalogue produced by Habitat, the furniture and home decor chain founded by Sir Terence Conran. And, oh my word, was that difficult! French law has it that every product has to come with its precise dimensions, materials, country of origin and so on. Our photographer went ape when he saw his carefully crafted photos (shot in the crystal-clear Mediterranean sunlight) covered over with text of War and Peace proportions!
But what do you say, beyond what the law tells you to say? What’s the positioning of your catalogue in your portfolio of brand touch points and what is its specific role? Another French retailer I worked with recently has rather functional shops and wanted to use their catalogue as a lifestyle statement in order to bring the whole brand to life. For a Turkish chain, their message was all about great value-for-money but the product images looked tacky and market stall cheap.
So the photography had to be upgraded.
And one issue I find time and again with catalogues is that, once a company gets into a groove with catalogues, that tends to be what is churned out week after week, month after month, year after year. Could it be time to change?