Last time this column focused on the merchandise sector (April 2006), it looked at the January mailstream. Now, extending that examination out to include the entire first half of 2006, things are looking pretty different. For example, in January, merchandise mailers made no use of sweepstakes; by the end of June, 3.4 percent of mailings in this sector featured this tactic. It’s also worth noting that while a marked increase in sweeps activity (in most sectors) usually means a heavily mailed promotion from one mailer, in this case the contests are evenly spread out among quite a few, including Marlboro, Winston, Subaru and Chevrolet.
There also has been a huge increase in personalization use from the start of the year. In January, just 11.1 percent of merchandise mailers personalized their offers. The first half of the year ended at 28.4 percent personalization, with big numbers in April (36.8 percent) and June (32.8 percent) helping to buoy this average. Self-mailer use also grew as the first and second quarters of 2006 wore on, ending at 56.5 percent self-mailers compared to January’s 47.2 percent.
The one place where merchandise mailers remained relatively consistent was incentives. January saw 2.7 percent of these mailers use freemiums, very close to the first half of the year’s average of 2.5 percent. Premium use dropped a little over the first two quarters, from 27.8 percent in January to a 22.5 percent average for the first and second quarters of 2006.