Are We Witnessing a Gradual Downsizing of the Mail?
We knew this day would come: The day when the mail started to get smaller. Between postal costs, more efficient formats and the growing desire among prospects to read shorter copy, the writing was on the wall for larger mail pieces (categorized as any format larger than a 6"x9" envelope) for the past few years.
2012 surprised us. Researching the gigantic database of direct mail, Who's Mailing What!, showed that larger formats actually grew from 2011 to 2012 by 3 percent and took up a solid 27 percent of the mailstream.
But we know it couldn't last. Perhaps it was the last gasp of large formats because so many companies and organizations, such as fundraisers, wanted to use up the remainder of their mail supplies. Or the need to get noticed in the mailbox trumped cost.
Either way, the first six months of 2013 the story reverted to form. In fact, it was one of the major trends that Paul Bobnak, head of research at Who's Mailing What!, and I discussed during Tuesday's "Brunch & Learn" Direct Marketing IQ webinar, "Direct Mail Trends and Practices That Increase Response" (click here to register for this free on-demand webinar, in case you missed it): Namely, that large formats were declining and medium-sized and smaller formats were increasing.
Here's exactly how it looks now in 2013 ...
- Large formats (larger than 6"x9"s): 25.4 percent of mailstream (a 6 percent drop)
- Medium-size formats (#10s to 6"x9"s): 72 percent of mailstream (a 2 percent increase)
- Small formats (smaller than #10s): 2.6 percent of mailstream (a 4 percent increase)
In other words, we're seeing major mailers shifting from larger formats to smaller ones, some transitioning from larger envelopes to self-mailers, a gradual disappearance of the impetus (big premiums like calendars and lumpy items) for larger envelopes for fundraisers, and more.