A Sweet Response to the First Odd-Shaped Mailer
When the Postal Rate Commission approved Customized MarketMail (CMM)a new postal classification that permits direct marketers to use nonrectangular and irregular-shaped mail pieceslate last summer, it was only a matter of time until a big retail-brand juggernaut entered the direct response fray.
The first to test the market with CMM was Great Circle Family Foods, a Krispy Kreme franchiser in Los Angeles. Great Circle targeted 10,000 Orange County residents, living within three miles of three store locations, with a high-gloss, nonrectangular mail piece employing an image of an open box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The piece dropped Aug. 11, two days after the CMM classification took effect, with a simple, but effective offer: Buy a dozen doughnuts and get another dozen for a dime. The campaign concluded Sept. 30 and fetched an 8.5-percent response rate from consumers.
"This was an extremely successful campaign," affirms Lisa Ducore, vice president of marketing for Great Circle Family Foods. "Traditionally Krispy Kreme as a brand does not allow traditional advertising, so we are always looking for new and innovative ways to reach prospective customers. Since we can't reach audiences [with general advertising], because it's not part of the brand and corporate identity, direct mail is one of those channels we're exploring to see what response it will give us."
Each mail piece included a special code that a Krispy Kreme representative keyed in to its point-of-purchase system to redeem the offer for the customer. "These were people who fit a demographic profile that we use: mothers and families who ultimately live within a three- to five-mile radius of each store location," says Ducore.
For the regional campaign, Great Circle and Krispy Kreme partnered with Park Forest, IL-based ShipShapes, a division of Imageworks Manufacturing and a producer of a direct mail product that meets the criteria for CMM, set by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). "Krispy Kreme wanted to show off its brand, and they thought [CMM] represented their brand properly," asserts Tom Becker, president of ShipShapes, who developed the first CMM product and long-advocated for its classification via the USPS. "Half of why I think this worked so well [for Krispy Kreme] is because of the perceived value of the plastic material it is printed on. It really presents a nicer image than normal direct mail on paper or card stock."
ShipShapes mail pieces are printed on a plastic engineered to accept ink while providing a high-gloss finish. Each piece is designed to flex and bend without creasing, retaining its shape after coming out of the mailbox, according to Becker. "What you are really paying for is plastic versus paper. The production methods are generally the same," he says.
Becker says that the cost involved with this type of piece varies based on quantity and distribution, but generally ranges from $1 to $2 per piece, including postage and drop-ship charges. For the Krispy Kreme target audience of 10,000, cost per unit was 57.4 cents for regular standard mail postage, 10 cents for drop-shipping to each Destination Delivery Unit and 65 cents for overall production. According to USPS regulations, mailers using CMM must have or obtain a Standard Mail permit, send a minimum of 200 pieces per mailing and drop-ship or deliver them to the ultimate destination facilities for handling.
When asked whether or not Krispy Kreme will rollout with CMM again in the near future, Ducore said at press-time that the company is doing its budgeting for 2004, and may conduct another campaign with ShipShapes. Historically, the Los Angeles franchiser has "done some direct mail, but not extensively," she says.
"The unique look and shape of this mailing definitely caught the attention of prospective customers," says Ducore. "We are thrilled with the results of the campaign."
Prior to the CMM classification, pieces 1/4-inch thick or less could not be nonrectangular or irregularly shaped. The U.S. Postal Service would permit mailing of an actual product, but prohibited direct mail in anything other than the standard flat, rectangular shape.