Catalogs are a universal guilty pleasure. I mean, who among us doesn’t have some kind of memory involving drooling over toys in the Sears Wish Book or coveting some gadget in those wacky Fingerhut catalogs — even simply chuckling at the all-too-serious model in a J. Crew mailer? Okay, maybe that’s just me. But the fact is that people actually shop from catalogs. The experience they’ve provided is one part wish list and one part armchair convenience. But catalogs as a category were starting to feel a bit, well, old.
At least until last week, when the Google Catalogs app was released for iPad. Now the whole ritual has been rocketed into a new dimension — one that mobile marketers and social media marketers alike can agree is pure genius.
The app is wisely populated with big, covet-worthy brands like Sephora and Williams-Sonoma. Catalog flippers can browse through lush layouts and seductively-photographed products just like they always have — but now on their iPads. The new catalog experience allows shoppers to zoom in on products, tap on tags to learn more, and even unlock videos, photographs and reviews about selected items. If there’s something buyers can’t live without, Google Catalog can direct them to stores nearby that carry the product or to the brand’s website where they can order online. Tapping into the inspiration board craze that we covered recently, Google Catalogs allows users to make collages of the items they love or have purchased and lets them share them with friends and other catalog users.
Googles’ commitment to merging shopping with search and social has manifested in some cool innovations recently and this one of them. Print and magazine-type marketing for tablets like the iPad was certainly inevitable. I would be willing to wager that we’re going to see tablet-based magazines and catalogs from brands big and small multiply in the next six months. Plus the idea is Earth friendly and is sure to save more than a couple of trees.
But you tell us, readers: Would you use a tablet catalog or do you prefer to kick it old school with a copy of Lillian Vernon on your back massaging chair? Order up a round of lively catalog-based conversation in the comments section below!