Forrester Research’s Dave Frankland on Environmental Trends
TM: What obstacles might be slowing direct marketers’ adoption of more environmentally friendly practices?
DF: I honestly think some of it is kind of an inertia—doing things the ways they’ve always been done. Clearly, if this lack of consideration is there, that’s probably the biggest obstacle.
But then the question would be what’s the obstacle to consideration? I don’t know the answer to that. I think it could just be, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” It could be, and again I sort of expected to hear there’s a perception that [the barrier is] higher cost. But those that I mentioned are doing it have clearly shown that it’s at least the same if not actually saved them money in some cases.
But again, you look at direct marketers, and it’s in their nature to test. So I would have expected to see there’s been a lot of testing of digital papers, inks, windows, gums on envelopes, whatever it might be. And maybe it would have been the case that, “If response rates decline as a result of that, we step back from it.” But there was no evidence to suggest that [direct marketers] even got to the consideration and testing part. So if this wasn’t a research-based discussion, I’d be saying, well maybe it’s that and maybe it’s this. And yet the research points to lack of consideration at all.
And then you look at … targeting and suppression. How many years have we been talking about these? There may be some technical challenges in some organizations … silos and all the usual reasons.
Direct marketing is going through a change, and I think the old way of just mailing a larger number of recipients at a declining response rate to hit a revenue target—there’s still a lot of marketers in that mind-set. I think if consumers and marketers continue on these divergent paths—and having said “divergent paths,” there’s still going to be a collision at some stage that will force marketers [to make changes].