By Frank J. Romano Consumers are browsing the printed catalog, and buying the product online. This is a fundamental shift in buying behavior. November 22, 2004 -- Consumers who shop from catalogs make more purchases by clicking a mouse, and fewer purchases by dialing the phone, according to a new report from DoubleClick catalog/retail unit, Abacus. The report further predicts that website sales are likely to surpass call-center sales within the next 18-24 months. In other words, consumers are browsing the printed catalog, and buying the product online. Consumers have traditionally made catalog purchases by telephoning call centers. According to this report, online sales accounted for 30 percent of catalog purchases in 2003. This is expected to increase to 36 percent in 2004 and 40 percent in 2005, at the expense of call-center and in-store share of sales. In 2003, in-store sales represented 24 percent, and call-center sales, 43 percent. This is a fundamental shift in buying behavior. The marketing strategies of traditionally offline and online retailers are starting to converge. Marketing approaches that place media in "silos" (print ads, online ads, etc.) lead some marketers to cut back on catalog mailings because of under-performing call-center and mail-in sales. They do not see the new relationships and practices that are evolving. Without good information and tracking, traditional marketers are unaware that reducing mailings eventually hurts online sales because fewer people receive the catalogs. Four years ago, call-center order sizes were 13 percent higher than online orders; average order sizes today are equal for both on- and offline, as consumers have become more comfortable with online purchases. Inclusion of magazines in a mix of TV and Internet more than doubles purchase intent among consumers. The importance of a print component of multi-media programs is becoming evident, especially when that print is magazines. A recent Dynamic Logic analysis of eight cross-media studies utilizing magazines, TV and the Internet found that magazine ads, when added to a mix of television and Internet advertising, more than doubles purchase intent among consumers exposed to the ads. All three media--TV, Internet, print---produced similar increases in "aided brand awareness," but TV and magazine ads yielded greater increases than online ads in generating overall ad awareness. The impact of magazine advertising may be due, in part, to the size of magazine ads and the higher involvement typical of the print environment. The findings were similar to some revealed by InsightExpress, another ad effectiveness researcher. Print is a vital component of any marketing program, whether it is a catalog, magazine, direct mail piece, or collateral material. The point is that print is a vital component of any marketing program, whether it is a catalog, magazine, direct mail piece, or collateral material. It is not a case of either/or--it is a case of mixed media effectively organized to maximize the marketing objective--and print is an important component. Many TV commercials are now ending with “call, click, or visit” to indicate the multiple contact methods available to the consumer. It is a multiple media world and we have to figure out how to communicate this to marketing managers who are too often mono- media oriented.