Personalized catalogs


It’s bad enough that online stores automatically send you a catalog after the first order, without asking your permission. It’s even worse that they rarely honor your list removal requests, or they just subscribe you again next time. But another recent trend really pisses me off: printing your name in places besides the address label.

From what I’ve seen, Office Depot is the worst offender. They print your name on the front cover of the catalog, and again on an inside page. Maybe this personalization increases the open rates and response rates, or someone just thinks it does. Either way, it’s quite annoying for a privacy-conscious consumer, since they have to look for and shred those extra pages.

This catalog design stinks aesthetically as well. Office Depot prints your name in all caps, and the font and ink clearly don’t match the surrounding text. It screams “mail merge”, “cookie cutter”, or just plain “cheap”. In turn, this surely hurts their brand in the face of customers. Coupled with the practical implications I described above, it’s no surprise that most catalog retailers have avoided this path. I only hope it stays that way.