Consumers Read Direct Mail Catalogs

The average consumer might not realize it but the volume of direct advertising mail ,about  85 billion pieces, was down 15% last year. There’s no question that traditional direct mail has lost ground to e‑mail and other digital channels. Yet consumers do read the advertising literature that arrives in their mailboxes. And they pay attention to specific forms of mail. That’s one of the key findings revealed in the USPS Household Diary Study.

The study found that almost 2/3’s (59%) of all mail received by consumers these days is from marketers.  Here’s what consumers have to say about all this mail:

  • Read all or some advertisements: 51%
  • Scan the advertisements: 28%
  • Do not read: 21%

Marketers typically send 23.3 pieces of mail a week to consumers with a specific demographic profile:

  • Household incomes exceeding $100,000
  • Head of household over age 55

The survey shows that these consumers, especially those with household incomes in excess of $150,000 have the highest response rates to direct mail. These consumers “respond to 2.3 pieces of advertising mail per week, and they may respond to another 3.1 pieces per week.”

Which marketers can except those high response rates? Companies that mail out catalogs know that 47% of recipients will read about what’s being offered. Only 19% of consumers toss the catalogs without looking at them. However, credit card companies don’t fare as well. Over 40% of consumers do not even look at these offers and only 33% read them.

Results like these show that direct mail continues to be an effective performer for marketers who should reach out to consumers through multiple channels.

[Source:  The USPS Household Diary Study. Print in the Mix. Rochester Institute of Technology. 2010. Web. 8 Sept. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.