J.C. Penney is reviving its print catalog, reports CBS News, which added that the company stopped publishing the “Big Book” six years ago.  According to CBS News correspondent John Blackstone, catalogs are making a comeback, “but they are not your grandmother’s catalogs.”  Blackstone stated that Laura Alber, the CEO of Williams-Sonoma Inc. – the parent company for seven brands including Pottery Barn and West Elm – said that even though she could just send an email, “people love the catalogs.”

Blackstone’s story also stated:

“They’re not just sales-generating tools, they help people decorate,” Alber said.

In the studio where Pottery Barn’s catalog is created, data-mining guides the designs. It also helps determine how life events, like a new baby or new home, might change customer preferences.

“In the same way we have great artists, we have great data scientists,” Alber said. “They study the response rate from every customer that we mailed it to.”

It turns out most catalog readers spend more money, both online and in stores.

It’s not just women who want catalogs. In 2007, Andy Dunn started a menswear brand, “Bonobos.” He launched online then later opened brick-and-mortar stores. Now, Bonobos is going old school, creating catalogs that are more like travelogues. Their latest is set in New Orleans. And, 20 percent of their first-time customers are placing orders after having received a catalog.

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