Cover Story: The Top 50 Mailers

Top 50 Mailers measured by volume

World Wildlife Fund mailing

World Wildlife Fund Mailing

Habitat for Humanity letter

Hearst Magazines

Hearst Magazines

Consumer Reports

March of Dimes

March of Dimes

The fifth annual listing of top mailers as measured by volume

The more things change on Target Marketing‘s Top 50 Mailers list, the more they stay the same. As I write this, mail volume continues to plummet; the U.S. Postal Service reported a drop just shy of another billion pieces for the third quarter of its 2010 fiscal year. So with increasingly less First-Class and Standard Mail in circulation, what do consumers find in their mailboxes these days?

According to this year’s Top 50 Mailer list, it’s more offers from nonprofits and publishers. While the nonprofit sector has always been dominant in the channel, it now carries more than half (52 percent) of our list of heavy mail users in the U.S. Publishers typically have walked almost hand-in-hand with their fundraising colleagues, but their 2009 marketing activities led to a 10-percent decrease in representation on the list—putting them at 32 percent. The remaining 16 percent is a smattering of insurance, financial services, food, merchandise, business services and even consumer packaged goods firms.

Cracking the Top 50 Mailers list for the first time is Procter & Gamble, which might be living up to the second half of its name depending on how it’s using direct mail. The channel is not the most cost-efficient way to sell low-cost consumables, like mouthwash and potato chips. However, it could be used selectively to sample new products and encourage influencers to help promote them.

In all, about 25 percent of the list rotated out from the 2009 analysis to the present one, compared to a 33 percent shift experienced between 2008 and 2009. Of that group, the most musical-chairs players came from the nonprofit sector, followed by merchandise and financial services. The latter sector has continued to fall out of love with direct mail, with just one bank—Citigroup—hanging on to a spot on the list.

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.
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  • http://kirby kirby

    Volumes have suffered from the policy of address updates, which mailers are required to prove every 95 days. For years mailers did not seem to care much about their mailing lists. i verify pars waste daily and volume is down.

  • http://Marco Marco

    Just read that standard was up again this month by 4.4%? Don’t confuse first class with all mail.
    Also, mobile is proving to be a real boon for print, in particular, smart direct mailers. Purls are dead when you compare them to QRs.
    Lastly, P&G would be smart to use mail, if they were shipping samples.