Catalogues Digital Transformation Boosts Shopper Engagement


According to new research, almost half of Australian shoppers (48 percent) have identified catalogues as their most used source of information when planning where to shop, outweighed only by internet search (57 percent) for the third consecutive year.

The commissioned survey into consumers’ path to purchase from ShopFully, the leading tech company in Drive to Store that connects millions of shoppers with the stores around them and Nielsen Media Analytics revealed that four in five Australians (80 percent) rely on digital platforms (internet search, digital catalogues, online reviews, blogs, social media) to inform their purchase decisions.

Three in four (75 percent) Australians shared they always or sometimes use catalogues to decide what products to buy, with 54 percent of them doing so to curb the cost of living and save money. The research highlights that digital catalogues are firmly taking over the traditional paper copy, with 66 percent of catalogue readers browsing the digital format at least once a week, compared to just 46 percent reading physical catalogues at the same frequency.

Brendan Straw, ShopFully’s Country Manager of Australia, said the evolution of the digital catalogue is fast surpassing its paper equivalent.

“The spike we’re observing in digital-only catalogue readers speaks for itself as Australian consumers continue to signal to retailers their preference for online formats. In fact, the weekly readership frequency of digital catalogues has increased from 57 percent in 2021 to 66 percent in 2023. Its paper counterpart declined from 53 percent to 46 percent over the same period.”

The surge in digital catalogue uptake can be attributed to factors identified by shoppers, including convenience (51 percent), environmental friendliness/reduced paper wastage (46 percent) and the simple fact that they’re easier to find (37 percent). Australian shoppers are paying more attention to retailer special offers and are, on average, spending 8.1 minutes viewing digital catalogues, with paper trailing behind at 7.2 minutes.

Interestingly, Millennials have exposed themselves as the most engaged generation in digital catalogues, with shoppers aged 25 to 39 browsing them on average 2.7 times a week, followed closely by Gen Z aged 18-24 doing so 2.5 times a week.

The decline in digital catalogue readership observed for those aged 40+ dropping to less than twice a week, suggests the future of the catalogue will heavily rely on digital as younger generations reveal their preference for paperless.

Australian shoppers are rediscovering the joy of physical retail, returning to brick-and-mortar stores in strong numbers, however, these same shoppers continue to live on digital platforms. Retailers must capitalise on the opportunity to meet their customers at this intersection, utilising digital catalogues as a tool to drive consumers in-store and increase conversion rates.

The modern-day catalogue in its most engaging format, enriched with videos, GIFs and recipe ideas, has been shown to unlock a haven of consumer insights dubbing the format as a data catalogue. Retailers leveraging the strategic utilisation of digital catalogues can uncover how shoppers connect with specials to the specific product and brand and gain insight into what influences shoppers to follow through on in-store purchases.

Across all retail categories, the research identifies catalogues as driving maximum purchase completion compared to alternative methods such as TV advertising, online ads and social media. In 2023, digital catalogues convinced 31 percent of its readers to purchase any product from grocery stores, ranking as the top drive-to-purchase channel within the grocery category, with this also true across electronics (34 percent), department stores (33 percent), home and office (28 percent), health and beauty (25 percent), liquor (24 percent) and hardware and DIY (24 percent).

“The shift to digital is nothing short of permanent. The data reveals that the percentage of Australian catalogue readers using only digital catalogues when deciding on stores to visit has been steadily increasing since 2021, reaching one in five Australians (22 percent) in 2023.”