Victoria’s Secret – A Tale of 2 Catalogues?

Our recent blog on Canadian Tire’s re-launch of their print catalogue highlights the power of converging media.

 The recent announcement by Victoria’s Secret to eliminate their print catalogue tells a different story; they have relied on the printing and mailing of 300 million catalogues as their primary marketing channel for many years.  Turning this channel off cannot be a decision made lightly. 

 How can Victoria’s Secret turn off their print catalogue while Canadian Tire re-introduces theirs?  The answer lies in the simple fact that not all printed communications are created equal.  The enclosed image which compares a page out of the Victoria’s Secret catalogue (yes, we didn’t pick a typical image) and a page out of the Canadian Tire catalogue tells the story.  To compare one catalogue to another is like comparing an apple to an orange.  The Victoria Secret print catalogue is a traditional single-media marketing execution – a picture, a price on a piece of paper!  The CT catalogue, aptly named the “Wow Guide” is also a print catalogue but incorporates multi-media marketing execution.  The reader is instantly moved online for additional product information, videos and demos by downloading the CT app and using their smartphone to move from print to online.  The result?  CT’s online revenues doubled during the period that the print catalogue was reintroduced.  Victoria’s Secret experience is very different – to reduce costs, they tested the impact of reducing their print catalogue by 40% (that’s 120 million catalogues!!!).  The impact to revenues – zero. 

 Imagine the opportunity that Victoria’s Secret might have by leveraging the technology of the CT Wow Guide?  Are VS shoppers interested in more information, video content of products being modeled, social media integration?  While I am not a VS shopper, I can guess that the answer is yes.  So is this really about eliminating a print channel to reduce cost or is it about failing to innovate?  I suppose VS will find out.