CHARTS: The number of Australians who read an Aldi catalogue each week will blow your mind

Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Junk mail is big business that’s survived the digital era and continues to thrive.

Supermarket catalogues are still at the forefront of the sector, which prompted Roy Morgan Research to have a look at what’s going on. Their findings reveal the growing power and threat Aldi poses to the incumbent duopoly of Woolworths and Coles, as well as the continued staggering success of supermarket catalogues.

How’s this for a number: in an average week in 2016, an astonishing 5.1 million Australians aged 14 and over read or looked into an Aldi catalogue.

Even more astonishing – and frightening for rivals Coles and Woolworths – is that Aldi now has Australia’s most-read supermarket catalogue.

Supermarket catalogue readership. Source: Roy Morgan Research

That puts them 200,000 readers ahead of Coles (4.9 million) and Woolworths (4.8 million). But it’s not all good news for Aldi – Roy Morgan says three in five readers are just browsing.

Readership for the German chain has now grown for three consecutive years, up 28% from 2013, while readership for its two Australian rivals has gone backwards over the past 12 months

Roy Morgan offers some relief for Coles and Woolies in our national fascination with the price of toilet paper and breakfast cereals. They work best for the incumbents: 52% of Woolworths’ catalogue reach leads to a sale, up from 48% in 2013, while Coles enjoys a 50% conversion rate, from 46% three years earlier. Despite the rapid roll out of stores, Aldi’s reader-to-shopper conversion rate hasn’t changed over that time and still sits at 38%.

But one retailer has a problem: IGA. Its catalogues gained readers between 2013 and 2015 but lost all of them last year to now sit at 2.12 million. The conversion rate is 37%.

Reader-to-shopper conversion rates. Source: Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine says th diversity of the Aldi product range could explain its appeal.

“As well as groceries, Aldi also advertises a range of household, sporting and clothing items in ‘Special Buys’ catalogues and this no doubt plays a big part in its increasing readership,” she said.

“Catalogue readers who don’t necessarily want to snap up a discounted television, garden shed, or snowboard may well be tempted by next week’s sheet set or bar fridge. Many bargain-hunters keep a close eye on catalogues, ready to pounce when the right deal comes along.”