Product catalog

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Title page (page 1) of the catalog "List 101" of the Centralheizungswerke AG from 1913

A product catalog is in the business a systematically arranged list of information of a manufacturer or dealer about products or services .


As an advertising medium, the product catalog is an important tool in marketing and direct mail . The most important catalogs are the mail order catalog for goods and the travel catalog for services . In the mail order business , mail order catalogs are the most important contact instrument for customers . They visualize the products on offer, which the buyer could otherwise look at or even try on or try out in the floor trade . Many catalogs no longer appear in print , but rather online on the website of online shops .

The brochure distinguishes itself from the catalog by its small size without a cover , the prospectus prices one or a few specific offers and is always subject to prospectus liability in the financial sector .


Eaton's Christmas Catalog (1904)

The book catalog published in Venice by Aldus Manutius in 1498 is considered the first catalog ; the oldest surviving catalog is that of the English gardener William Lucas from 1667. Benjamin Franklin's catalog of books from 1744 contained 600 offers.

The American entrepreneur Aaron Montgomery Ward (1843-1913) presented the first mail order catalog in 1872 for his mail order business in Chicago . It consisted of a single sheet of paper with the offers and shipping terms. Instead of visiting his customers - mostly farmers in the vastness of the American West - personally at regular intervals, taking their orders and then delivering the goods on his next visit, he gave them a list of goods. In 1884 a catalog with 240 pages and 10,000 items was developed from this. Timothy Eaton published his first trans-Canadian catalog in 1884. Sears Roebuck published the first catalog in 1893, and from 1897 Sears Roebuck sent out catalogs of 750 pages with 6000 articles. Eaton had a circulation of 1.3 million copies in 1904.

The first illustrated catalogs appeared in German-speaking countries from 1886 onwards from the men's outfitter Mey & Edlich, which was founded in 1870 and still operates as a mail order business today . With the publication of his first catalog of goods in 1886, Ernst Mey in Leipzig can be regarded as the founder of the German mail order business. This was followed in 1887 by Kastner & Öhler Versand , which was the first in Austria to send out catalogs and thus operate the mail order business. Josef Witt , founder of the Witt Weiden mail order company, was one of the first to take up the idea of ​​the mail order catalog . In 1907, Witt listed a selection of his product range in a directory with appealing descriptions and illustrations. His goal was to expand his customer base regardless of the geographic location of the potential customers.

The mail order business , which was dependent on catalogs , flourished in the Weimar Republic , as many mail order companies that still exist today were founded: Versandhaus Klingel (1923), Baur Versand (1925), Friedrich Wenz (1926), Quelle (October 1927), Schöpflin (1929) , Bader Versand (1929), Vorwerk (1930) or later Neckermann (December 1938). After the Second World War, Neckermann's first catalog was published in March 1950, followed by that of Otto-Versand in September 1950 with 14 pages and an edition of 300 copies. West German mail order catalogs gained great popularity in the GDR at that time . The Neckermann catalog reached its peak after reunification in 1990 with 1000 pages and a circulation of 10 million copies. The catalogs by Quelle (2009) and Neckermann (2012) have now ceased to appear, and Otto Versand published its last catalog in November 2018. The reason was online trading , which had made catalogs less important since the 2000s.


Catalogs have a specific structure. The title page is usually followed by a table of contents that provides an overview of the goods or service groups. They are usually listed according to a specific system. For example, all products from a certain manufacturer are listed or the products are first sorted by their type and then by manufacturer and product name. The product information is often supplemented with technical information, quality description and / or graphics, images and photos. Images help in travel catalogs to anticipate the still missing primary experience of the vacation experience by looking at the images, which is why the image part in travel catalogs is larger than the text part.

Legal issues

Price lists , menus or product catalogs represent an invitation to submit an offer , so they are not yet an offer themselves . Only the order from the catalog is considered a binding offer. Therefore, incorrect catalog information can still be corrected through the declarations of intent made when the contract was concluded . However, if the errors are not noticed, the purchase contract is also concluded with an incorrect purchase price , but the seller can contest his declaration of intent due to a content error ( § 119 Paragraph 1, 1st alternative BGB ) and thereby also make the contract null and void retrospectively ( § 142 Paragraph . 1 BGB). There is therefore no separate prospectus liability for the correctness of the information in catalogs. According to § 5 PAngV , the provider of services has to set up a price list with the prices for his essential services, which is to be displayed in the business premises , in the shop window or as a screen display . The product catalog meets these requirements.

See also


  • Anita Kühnel (Ed.): Scripture, image, characters. Advertising graphics in Germany 1945 - 2015 , Kettler, Dortmund 2016, ISBN 978-3-86206-565-3 .
  • Herlyn, W .: PPS in automobile construction - production program planning and control of vehicles and assemblies . Hanser Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-446-41370-2 .

Web links

Commons : Catalogs  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter Voigt, Internationales Reiseveranstaltungenmanagement , 2012, p. 257
  2. ^ Heinrich Holland, Direktmarketing: Im Dialog mit dem Kunden , 2009, p. 425
  3. ^ Heinrich Holland, direct marketing: In dialogue with the customer , 2011, p. 1
  4. Shopping Innovations, The History of the Shopping Mall , August 9, 2016
  5. Jörg Knoblauch, Die Personalfalle , 2010, p. 127
  6. ^ Heinrich Holland, direct marketing: In dialogue with the customer , 2011, p. 1
  7. First Mey & Edlich catalog . In: The New York Public Library Digital Collections . January 31, 2017 ( [accessed May 16, 2018]).
  8. Mey & Edlich - Buy fashion for men online. Retrieved May 16, 2018 .
  9. Edith Münzer, Alte Grazer Kaufmannsfamilien , 1986, p. 65 ff.
  10. Kristina Kortländer, The Land of Smiles: Thailand as a Myth in Travel Catalogs , 2000, p. 96
  11. Dr. Th. Gabler Verlag, Gablers Wirtschaftslexikon , Volume 4, 1984, Sp. 806
  12. ^ BGH, judgment of February 4, 2009, Az .: VII ZR 32/08