Earlier this month, H&M announced that it was discontinuing its print catalog after 39 years. Previously distributed in 18 international markets, the final edition will be published in just six, mostly in Scandinavia and Europe. Given the rise of online shopping and H&M’s rapid store expansion, on the surface it makes sense to stop printing and distributing such a relic of the past. But the company’s decision to drop its catalog somewhat ignores a more recent trend: As online marketing is getting more expensive and competitive, offline marketing methods are coming back in vogue.

In the announcement, the brand said that “As shopping patterns change and customers nowadays choose to shop online instead we have decided to say goodbye to our catalog.” But this discounts the fact that while people might not be ordering through a catalog, they can definitely learn about the brand and its products through a print publication. As you’ve read previously, the rising cost of digital customer acquisition has pushed many digitally-native and direct-to-consumer brands to shift their budget into media such as direct mail (The Real Real, Parachute), co-op mailers (Casper, Primary), catalogs (Amazon, Bonobos) and other forms of printed content.

Instead of getting rid of the catalog altogether, H&M should have shifted the size and focus of the catalog to something more brand-heavy, compared to something transaction-heavy. The addresses of these customers are valuable, even if the shoppers might be older given their preference for print, but there is still a lot to gain. As younger customers spend more time staring at their phones, they are also seeking out printed materials, which are growing increasingly common. H&M cited falling catalog circulation as one of the reasons to cease publication, but this again relies on an old metric (print circulation) compared to using print as a storytelling tool online or in-store orders.

This is a classic example of a company looking at a channel and making an obtuse statement that it will soon retract (Recall how Everlane’s CEO said he would shut the company down before opening stores—today, Everlane’s stores are one of the business’s bright spots). With only three main sales channels for brands (ecommerce, retail and wholesale) and only so many marketing channels (digital advertising, out-of-home, TV, radio, influencers, email, podcasts, print), ruling one out entirely ignores the nuanced value proposition of any given medium.

Looking at the medium strategically, a catalog as it’s always been is less relevant today, but printed content—whether postcards, direct mail, posters, magazines or anything in between—has an increasingly large role to play in brand-building and shopping more broadly. For one, attention today is more starved than ever and it’s very easy for a shopper to ignore a brand’s emails, to walk or drive by a number of billboards without notice, or for Instagram to algorithm-away a brand’s posts and stories. But consumers who receive a tangible object in their mailboxes or with an in-store or online order gives them something to look at. Even if it’s only for ten seconds, that is a whole lot longer than the time it takes to archive an email or scroll past a post in a social feed.

H&M also justified its pivot away from the catalog by pointing to its focus on sustainability—something the company has recently concentrated more on as a fast-fashion brand with a fundamentally problematic business model. But there’s a larger issue at stake. Yes, printing less paper is a good thing, but the subliminal reason for the catalog discontinuation is that H&M releases products so quickly and frequently that print is too slow of a distribution method. In other words, H&Ms business model is incompatible with a healthy speed of production and distribution. Shifting focus to online retail also contradicts its desire to create a more sustainable business model; Ecommerce itself is much more detrimental to the planet given all of the cardboard, jet and car fuel and plastic it takes to move products around the world. If anything, using selective print content to get people to shop in the brand’s stores versus on its website, would make a positive net difference on the planet. The brand could go even further and encourage customers to shop less, doing so locally only when they really need to.

H&M has plenty of problems and ruling out a channel for the sake of it isn’t going to help. Instead, it needs to enlist a smarter and more sustainable approach that is relevant to the consumer landscape today. In the meantime, many other brands will be happy to fill the mailbox real estate H&M is leaving in its wake.