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The Ever-Changing Face of Catalog Printing

It seems as if catalog printing has been around forever. It’s been a mainstay in society for hundreds of years. Catalog printing is used by small businesses, large corporations and even individuals. The applications are endless, ranging from apparel to education as well as from business supplies to gifts and more. The following is a timeline of catalog printing–where it’s been, what’s happening now and what we can expect from it in the future.

The Past

* 1436: Johannes Gutenberg invented the first movable printing press.
* 1498: The first known catalog was published in Venice. It was a simple listing of 15 books.
* 1744: Benjamin Franklin brought the technique to the US, also selling books.
* 1861: Pryce Pryce-Jones created the first modern mail-order service in Britain.
* 1845: Tiffany & Co. sent the first mail-order catalogs in the US.
* 1872: Montgomery Ward and Company began mail orders as well, followed shortly by Sears and Spiegel, Inc.
* 1980s: Computers were added to track inventory and phone orders became prevalent.
* Mid-1990s: Dell Computers became one of the first companies to practice database management. They purged their lists of unnecessary data, reduced mailings, and increased profits.
* Late-1990s: Companies like 1-800 Flowers and Amazon opened up online shops and created digital listings.

The Present

* Printed literature is used as part of a comprehensive, multi-channel marketing plan.
* More companies are adding virtual stores, digital catalogs and apps into the mix.
* Data discovery and business intelligence are commonly used to determine consumer patterns.
* Specific consumers are targeted based on information gathered.
* Mailing lists are well-maintained.
* Companies use predictive modeling to plan successful campaigns.
* Eco-friendly printing practices have surged, including the use of recycled paper and soy ink.

The Future

Some people think printed media is dying out. However, there are studies that indicate the median age of the average reader is around 38. It’s also preferred over reading online by as much as two-thirds of people in their 20s and 30s, according to other studies. Because it’s a very effective form of marketing, and it’s still enjoyed by even younger consumers, it will likely be decades before popularity fades, it if ever does. Additionally, because it works extremely well to drive web traffic, it will probably never disappear entirely.

Gutenberg and Franklin would not have imagined selecting items from an iPad app. Similarly, we truly have no way to know what may be included in future printed media from Arandell and other companies. Perhaps we’ll see more companies using it to draw people to their websites. They may also incorporate more non-sales-related information as well to make it read more like a knowledge-based book, as some have started doing today. What we do know, however, is that as of now, print media is still alive and kicking, even though it doesn’t look the same as it did when it began.

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