Nuts & Bolts: Global Update
China Post boasts a long history, with more than 3,000 years of national post, more than 500 years of private post and more than 100 years of contemporary national post. But still today, the concept of “post office” for this organization is very different than that of the USPS.
For example, China Post is also one of the largest banks in the world. And while its customers have one of the highest savings rates globally, Chinese consumers physically go to their local branches to make remittances for other banking services.
In the midst of a rapidly emerging marketplace, China Post sought to create the “Name and Address Database,” the most comprehensive in China. This certainly was no small undertaking. To have an effective and actionable database, China Post needed to ensure delivery to a widely dispersed marketplace, provide sufficient detail about the target to ensure the right profile, and guarantee the data was clean enough to clearly identify consumer demographics and lifestyle interests. On the macro level, China Post was dealing with a population of more than 1.3 billion.
Postal challenges become infinitely more complex at the street level, where street profiles can vary by dwelling types, income levels, family composition, etc. A single block in China may include:
• A mix of homes, offices and small businesses;
• migrants, families and workers living and working side by side;
• huge income ranges; and
• mixed education levels.
To make this information useful to marketers, it was necessary to pinpoint similar customers by dwelling type, making the detail of the Chinese residence of the utmost importance.
To get accurate data, China Post enlisted the local postmen, who were given a survey to gather data for each address on their routes. In a process that took two years to complete, China Post collected data on 45 percent of all cities in China and on 31 provinces, with a focus on economically developed areas. In a country where there are about 300 million people in the middle class, the China Post Name and Address Database contains 150 million to 200 million records that allow marketers to target unique groups of people.
Valuable address detail provides an even richer level of targeting. Attached to the address detail is a growing pool of accurate demographic and lifestyle data that can be used in conjunction with the address detail to further improve targeting. In addition, name and address data can be appended to marketers’ customer data. This allows marketers to match records between all lists to provide a uniform data set, which is essential in deduping lists, matching lists and scoring.
The China Post database was put to the test when it was used to develop a campaign for Bank of China Credit Cards. The target market was high-income, inner-city professionals. The database allowed Bank of China to choose high-quality buildings and communities to establish income levels; choose large, residential communities for high-income professionals; and to use postcode, county and city data to target the most affluent geographies.
While the China Post model might not work in every country, it shows what can happen when the public sector takes on a role the private sector has not yet addressed. Given the boost to the growth of direct marketing within China this database provides, we can only hope a few more countries’ national posts also step up.
Ron Jacobs is CEO of Jacobs & Clevenger, a multi-channel direct marketing agency in Chicago. This article is based on the case study in the recently released eighth edition of “Successful Direct Marketing Methods: Interactive, Database, and Customer Marketing for the Multichannel Communications Age,” written by Bob Stone and Jacobs. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.