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J.C. Penney Resurrects the Catalog, But Don't Expect the 'Big Book'

Print isn't dead. At least not to J.C. Penney.

Five years after pulling its extensive catalog, the department store is once again turning to print, sending out a new home department-focused print catalog in March. The reasoning: even if people are shopping online, seeing the products in print can help inspire online purchases.

"Customers, particularly when it comes to looking at home merchandise, still like flipping through a traditional print piece (think about the Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, etc. mailers and small catalogs you get in the mail) but then they go to jcp.com… to order the item or go into our store," says J.C. Penney spokesperson Kate Coultas. "It's a traffic driving, marketing piece."

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While the catalog is a new page in J.C. Penny's marketing history, the publication is not a reboot of the brand's famous "big book" catalog. The last big book from fall/winter 2009 was approximately 800 pages, while the new catalog is only 120. According to Coultas, the catalog represents a "more robust home maller," something that the chain has sent out as recently as 2012.

J.C. Penney has struggled to find its place in recent years in the post-recession, ecommerce heavy marketplace. However, the company may finally be on the upswing after branding mishaps and store closures: earlier in January, J.C. Penney reported stronger-than-expected holiday sales. Bringing back aspects of what made the chain a shopper-favorite may be just what the brand needs to complete the comeback in 2015. 

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