10 years ago, as a booker of unaddressed mail, I worked closely with PMP (Target), Salmat (Woolworths), Dominos, the Australian Government and Electoral Commission et al to plan and lodge their catalogue and leaflet drops. And a mere 9.5 years ago I was managing the products and pricing, design, print and distribution of a national retail store catalogue.
Quickly learning the process inside out and optimising the bejesus out of it, I soon grew bored and decided to learn a new discipline.
And thus, it has been almost a decade since I’ve cared in the slightest about paper-based catalogues. What changed? We recently moved into a “real house” and acquired a full sized residential letterbox, with an attending influx of… I won’t call it junk. But frankly, I’ve been horrified at the sheer quantity of paper delivered into said mailbox.
Two days before Father’s Day, when my kitchen bench was overflowing with inches of unread waxed paper I decided to start cataloguing (ha!) the items we’d received. The unaddressed mail collection featured in the next couple of posts is only 2 x weeks worth – and i only photographed one page of each item if that (eg I didn’t capture any of the smaller postcard sizes, DLs or loose leaf items/flyers) and many of these catalogues are 10pp+.
Here are my thoughts on what’s the same and what has changed in the last decade.
First up: Pricing
1) Using wholedollars
Thankfully, the Reject Shop, Coles, Woolworths, BigW, Mitre10, BWS, Cheap As Chips and KMart catalogues are finally admitting that $2.99 and $3 are precisely the same thing! No one falls for that 99cents-is-so-extremely-cheaper-than-a-dollar psych trick anyway these days.
I love the ease of presentation in wholedollar pricing:
2) Different products, same price
KMart simplifies the messaging even further, showing one pricing bubble for different goods in the same price range (shorts and thongs, both $10)… And a single price bubble for a vast range of colours:
Not everyone has come to the “stop the 99c farce” conclusion yet – many still resort to the old 99c tactic, including my good friends at Aldi and OfficeMax:
The front of the Fantastic furniture catalogue was almost a “clean” look & feel, using good-looking whole dollars (but still ending in 99) for big ticket items:
But then the cluttered layout inside was not so Fantastic:
3) Ending prices in something different
Others, like Radio Rentals have cleaned it up slightly by displaying Zero cents (unnecessary in my opinion, but maybe it’s a type of full disclosure, perhaps required when it comes to locked-in long term rental plans):
Perhaps even stranger, some retailers are beginning to resort to 98cents over wholedollar. Yes, 98.
For example Serenity Nursery:
Or Dan Murphy’s with a rounded recurrent 90cents:
Both slightly interruptive & admittedly they don’t cause *quite* the same blindness as 99c… But I wouldn’t recommend as a compelling pricing strategy. 2cents isn’t that different to 1cent. How dumb are consumers really?
But then again, pricing that appears completely random and immemorable, similar to this Bunnings brochure seems even more difficult to understand:
And I’m assuming super cluttered pricing like Super Cheap Auto would be ineffective as customers would feel unable to compare prices (it’s too hard, therefore assumed unfair):
8’s in whole dollars may work better in large numbers though – Dick Smith is ending these prices in 8 rather than 9, which seems to be sufficiently magic eye tricksy for 148 and 178:
4) The pricing promise
And Dick Smith also uses pricing promises, committing to their cheapest prices “ever”:
Which I find interesting when compared with Harvey Norman’s catalogue front cover, which has no prices whatsoever – relying instead on whitegoods with name brand trust & a stated willingness to haggle:
5) Percentage discounts and cashbacks
Whereas Spotlight tries a different tack again, displaying percentage discounts in large font with prices at an appropriate size for ants:
Another decade-old pricing trick still being used by some = fiendishly complicated cashback offers.
Using this Myer catalogue page as an example, here’s a question that is probably included in the Defence Force Naval Officer entry level IQ test:
– Now only $$
– After $$ cashback
– You pay $$
– Which is a saving of $$
Q: How much does it really cost?
Another thing that’s a little consumer-law-risky (but can be done effectively) is comparative pricing. Obviously this isn’t a catalogue (my excuse = I photographed in-store point of sale posters, but it *was* during the same week as the catalogue cataloging) Aldi’s nappy and olive oil price comparison is quite compelling for the budget conscious.
Not inaccurate or insulting to the competitor name brand, I think ALDI have done it quite well: