Vividness is the key to influencing customers

I read a very interesting article recently about the potential comeback of catalogues in increasing uplift in ecommerce sales. Can you remember the joy you felt when those huge tomes landed on your doorstep holding such promise between their pages? One of the bastions of catalogues was Littlewoods, who had been sending them out for 80 years but who dumped them in 2015 in favour of online.

A ‘catalogue comeback’? I was intrigued.

An online luxury watch and jewellery retailer took part in a field experiment with a third (30%) of its customers. Just over half (55%) were emailed the regular weekly eshot, while 40% were sent a new bi-monthly printed catalogue as well as the weekly eshot.

Results showed that the catalogue + eshot group had a 15% lift in sales and 27% lift in enquiries compared to the eshot-only group. It was calculated that if this campaign was rolled out across the whole customer base, then similar response rates would boost current profit levels by 40%.

Impressive forecasts indeed but it was the further research that intrigued me where they showed that catalogues increased the ‘vividness’ of a product, better enabling customers to visualise and imagine using the items.

The article posed that bricks and mortar stores are expensive and that for purely online retailers, a well-designed catalogue could make their products more vivid, tactile and memorable.

Evoking emotional connections through printed mail has long been proven to help companies cut through digital noise. We’re more emotionally attached to print than digital channels, making emotional connections in less than a second.

When Royal Mail1 spent 18 months digging deep into the impact of mail in our homes, hearts and head, it reminded us that we’re still physical creatures that thrive on human contact and stimulation. That giving, receiving and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.

Studies show that printed material’s physicality triggers heightened activity in areas of the brain that integrate visual and spatial information, making it more memorable. But I like this extra dimension that vividness has proved very influential in consumer behaviour. I like the idea that it increases the customer’s involvement and joy in the purchasing process, ultimately influencing preference and sales.

It needs skill to capture and portray vividness, and I don’t believe it can be achieved through digital alone, it needs print too. Print is a multi-sensory powerhouse that’s up to 700% more effective at landing a message than single sense media. And developments in print production now mean you can engage all the senses through innovations like tasteable adverts and sound-infused packaging.

Print is everywhere, it continues to touch and support our lives in immeasurable ways, from food and pharma packaging to educational and recreational resources and signage. Print touches and directs people in a way that digital never can. But it takes a highly skilled graphic designer to create material that will work across multiple mediums, from mailings to out of home. Designers trained only for screen will not have that experience or knowledge.

Integrating is the way forward. When Royal Mail† measured mail’s effectiveness using neuroscience it found that integrating mail with broadcast and digital media enhanced incremental value from new, and existing, customers. It found that 92% of folk were driven online through receiving mail, while 87% were influenced enough to make a purchase.

This certainly seemed to be true of the jewellery and watch retail field experiment. The fact that ecommerce is more convenient is no longer the primary differentiator it once was, being able to empathise and connect emotionally with customers is what will give companies a greater competitive advantage.

Print has been proven to be more effective than digital in connecting emotionally. What print you use will depend on the nature of your business. But what seems to be critically important is the vividness of it all, so be more vivid!

† Source: Royal Mail’s Why Mail Cuts Through

1 Source: Royal Mail Private Life of Mail