It is expected that the industry will see a rise in niche publications and a focus on more developed catalogs that “tell a story.”

For those in the magazine and catalog printing and publishing segments, the past year has been nothing short of dynamic. Although there has been considerable consolidation and downsizing, these trends have opened up doors to other possibilities that are being embraced by printers and publishers alike: niche publications are on the rise and catalogs have evolved to tell their own story.

Niche Is the New Mass Market

Traditionally, magazines were driven by mass-market titles that could appeal to a wide audience, David Pilcher, VP of sales and marketing at Freeport, Ohio-based Freeport Press, explains. The industry has recently seen a shift in the types of titles that are seeing the biggest growth, he says, and it's niche titles that are leading the march.

These types of niche publications may provide the perfect opportunity for printers to work with publishers to launch new titles.

Part of the reason publications, in particular, are flourishing in the niche space is because the audience has chosen to engage with the brand rather than because of data analytics or targeting.

The changing landscape and consolidation in the publication and catalog segments on the paper supply side have also affected the cost of production. Gary Sierzchulski, director of customer engagement strategies at Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Arandell, says that there have been increases in paper costs due to this consolidation. In addition to paper costs trending upwards, postal rates will continue to rise in 2018, with previous technology incentives eliminated.

Connecting the brand with people in an experiential way is more effective than showing stacks of merchandise with prices next to them.

Although some brands may consider a digital catalog to be on equal footing with a printed version, there is an essential difference between print and digital catalogs that drives the print component. When it comes to digital, there is no control over the outcome of the digital rendering. Merchandisers and art directors have no control over what the merchandise will look like on screen, he explains. But, when it is printed, color can be controlled.

Overall, the marketing industry remains very bullish on print. It is still the most effective channel for driving sales, maintaining brand loyalty and growing a customer base. The results of print versus all other channels back that up.