According to a PEW Research Center survey conducted in November 2016, 77% of Americans now own smartphones and nearly 9 out of 10 Americans today are online. With this growth in smartphone ownership and online use, it may seem like direct mail and catalogs are a thing of the past. However, consumers are driven to shop and maintain brand loyalty created by a connection to familiar catalogs they receive in their mailbox, linking their online experience.

Lee Raini, Director of Internet research at PEW Research Center in Washington D.C. states, “The data suggests how the rise of smartphones has been a major story in the universe of connected gadgetry…smartphones are transforming into all-purpose devices that perform many of the same functions of specialized technology.”

So, why print, and how can smartphones drive catalog sales?

Smart phones offer an opportunity to complement offline commitment to catalogs. Millennials are likely to feel engaged, more social, and connected with the use of apps, but catalogs can build a deeper, more meaningful relationship by connecting brands and familiar products with customers.

In a 2013 study from Adobe and Harris Interactive, 1 in 5 smartphone users said they would download an app to become familiar with a brand. It was not so much to make an online purchase as to discover more about the company and products before deciding to buy. Apps allow smartphone and tablet users to discover brands, search for deals, and research items.

With over 3 million mobile apps available for download to date, users may feel overwhelmed with the options, and it is more likely that smartphone users will discover a particular store app from suggestions from friends and use the app as a way to save time with shopping.

Catalogs may prompt customers to use apps to find more information about a product or item, building a stronger relationship and purchasing power through your direct mailing campaign.

What is missing from an app?

Catalogs allow customers to relax and read, mark pages, circle items, and make lists from the comfort of their homes. Even in this fast paced society, the internet may not always be “on,” but catalogs are. They do not require internet access or battery life.

Smartphone users may browse an item and not go back to it, but catalogs sit on the table, making a statement, a reminder to buy. Print is an opportunity to connect internet browsers, app users, store shoppers, and new audiences.

Print catalogs allow companies to grow their customer base and offer an interactive shopping experience. Catalogs may inspire app use or online sales, as studies show sales increase with catalog mailings. What one is lacking, the other one offers.

The digital era and traditional catalogs complement each other, inspire brand loyalty, and solidify customer relationships by offering up-to-date technology and options.