This year, Amazon kicked off the holiday season by introducing something that many will consider unusual for the e-commerce juggernaut: a printed toy catalog. Here’s why associations would do well to take a page from Amazon’s book.
This holiday season marks the first year without a big toy store. In June, Toys R Us closed its doors, thanks in large part to Amazon. And with its shuttering also went the warm and fuzzy experience of children poring over the pages of its annual holiday catalog.
But now Amazon is trying to bring some of that nostalgia back with the release of its printed toy catalog “A Holiday of Play.” While evoking all those warm, yesteryear feelings, Amazon’s catalog also includes QR codes, which consumers can scan to receive product details and purchasing information. In addition, the online version allows people to click through and add toys to their Amazon cart.
Kim Caviness, EVP and chief content officer of content marketing agency Imagination, calls it a smart move for the online retail giant. “There’s a certain element of shopping and the retail experience that is undeniably experiential and tactile,” she said. “And after first acting as a disrupter to disrupt the staid toy companies, now that they’ve cleared the path, they’re using the best tried-and-true practices of print.”
After all, people are exhausted by technology. “Everyone is plugged into their phones all the time, but at the same time, wishing that they weren’t,” Caviness said, adding that print is a powerful component to the omnichannel content experience.
So, what takeaways does Amazon’s catalog offer associations?
First, it reaffirms that print should always be a part of the content experience that associations deliver to members. “Associations started off being the great thought leaders and the great content providers,” Caviness explained, but they were disrupted when information from an array of sources became available online.
To compete, associations should be online too, providing their expertise and insider point of view, but they should also compliment what they’re doing there with offline touchpoints—conferences and magazines, for instance. People value long-form content, high-impact design, and gorgeous photography, and the fact is that those don’t connect as deeply onscreen as they do in print.
“How can you take your print magazine and make it play a different role in grasping at their senses to complement what you’re already doing with them with the daily tips on their mobile phone or with the registration sign-up that they have to go online to do?” Caviness said. “How can you think about every single member touchpoint and offer complementary messages of value across all forms?”
Second, Amazon’s introduction of a print catalog makes the case that associations should think long and hard before eliminating print when they’re looking to cut costs or connect with younger generations. That’s because advertisers don’t follow from print to digital in the same profitable way. “There’s a lot more competition, and [digital] sells for less,” she said.
By cutting print elements, associations might also be alienating the very people they’re trying to connect with. “People’s mailboxes are really relatively empty, and their inboxes and email are stuffed full, so where are you going to have that higher impact experience with them?” Caviness said.
How have you used print to successfully complement your omnichannel content experience? Please leave your comments below.