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Five Things We Love About the Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog
Marketing Tactics

Five Things We Love About the Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog

But first, some history:

Before there was Amazon, there were department stores. Technically, department stores are still around. But before Amazon, there were more of them. 

And every November, in order to drive traffic to their stores, they would mail out massive, perfect-bound print catalogs featuring everything they wanted you to buy for the holidays. 75% of it was full of boring things for grown-ups, but the other 25% was nothing but toys.

As a kid growing up in pre-internet times, the arrival of these catalogs was one of the most glorious days of the year. You wanted everything in that catalog, much to your parents’ chagrin, but just as the store planned.


Then Amazon happened.

All of e-tail, really. Shopping changed forever. People spent less time at brick-and-mortar department stores and more time shopping online. So many stores closed, and the ones that remained in business scaled back their marketing efforts. At the top of the chopping block? Those sweet, beautiful, toy-filled print catalogs. 


Then November 2019 happened.

A few weeks ago, some of us here in the office received an unexpected surprise in the mail: a toy catalog. In print. From Amazon.

The same Amazon whose mere existence led to the closure of the department stores that used catalog marketing to generate sales, was now using catalog marketing to generate sales. Weird, right? 

Not really. 

Catalogs are back! According to a United States Postal Service report, 84% of people purchase a product because they saw it in a catalog. We mostly know this because one of our clients is Arandell, who provide businesses big and small with some pretty impressive catalog solutions. Over the past year, they’ve taught us a ton about how print catalogs can and do impact a business for the better.


Five Things We Love About This Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog

1. It’s just the good stuff

Unlike the massive department store catalogs of old, this one eliminates all the boring grown-up stuff and focuses exclusively on what matters most at the holidays: toys.


2. It’s designed for kids.

This catalog is heavily photo-driven. Bold, colorful product pics combined with action shots of some of the toys being played with by other kids. Talk about catering to your audience. There’s also next to no copy-- product descriptions and prices are absent from each page. Instead, grown-ups will find that info via...



3. ...fancy functionality for the adults

Make sure to read this catalog with the Amazon app open on your mobile phone. When you find a product you want to know more about, simply tap the camera icon next to the search bar and BOOP-- the product page appears with key details and pricing info.

Do the same thing when you see a SmileCode next to anything in the book, and you’ll discover related products and more must-have gifts. 

(We’re suckers for a short, sweet purchase journey.)


4. All the Bonus Features

A holiday wish list page? Check.
Holiday Mad Lib? Check.
Sheet full of stickers? Prayers answered.

And let’s not forget the crafty instructions on page 88 that will help you and your little ones turn those Amazon boxes into fun, wearable costumes. (Which may or may not be a reaction to the recent news articles about how Amazon returns are killing the environment.)

5. The fact that they did it.

When you’re an e-tailer, and your target audience can’t legally shop online, sending a kid-friendly print catalog to homes across America is one heck of a workaround.

Then, to give that print piece a level of functionality that makes buying said toys just two clicks away? (Chef’s kiss.)

Say what you will about this non-tax-paying king of convenience, but Amazon (or their more likely, their marketing partner) identified their goals, recognized the challenge, understood their audience, and came up with a smart, creative solution. Kudos to you, Amazon’s marketing partner. 


Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go scan some of these Lego sets for mysel-- er, my nephews.


Print isn’t dead! And we can bring your print projects back to life. Just drop us a line and we’ll help you find a smart, creative way to put print to work for you.

The CI Trends Team

The CI Trends Team

CI Design is an award-winning agency located in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Driven by curiosity and passion, we are a creative marketing engine dedicated to shaping stories that get results.

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