Stat of the Month: Continuity & Clubs
In a down economy, all companies must make an even more concerted effort to retain their current customers, including the direct mail consumers of books, music, movies, cosmetics, food and alcohol. Therefore, in this month’s examination of the consumer continuity series and clubs sectors, I expected to see a gradual shift away from previous mailing practices. And I did see exactly that in the first four months of this year in our Who’s Mailing What! Archive, though the changes were more rapid than gradual.
First, the percentage of continuity series and clubs mailings in the total mailstream was down, perhaps with companies continuing to mail their regular customers but less to prospects. After consistently hovering above the 2 percent mark of percentage of total mail, it dropped to 1.7 percent for the first four months of this year.
While that drop in mail volume indicates a tightening of the budget, it looks like continuity series and clubs mailing companies splurged much more on new creative and new formats so far in 2008 than in any of the previous four years. From 2004 to 2006, roughly half of all mail from this sector had been repeated, before going down to 37.9 percent in 2007. Obviously that was a sign of new efforts increasingly being sent into the mailstream, for in the first four months of 2008, repeat mail plummeted to a staggeringly low 25.4 percent. In other words, nearly three-quarters of all efforts were first-timers.
Much experimentation has been witnessed thus far in 2008 because of so many new efforts. Traditionally a popular format for clubs and continuity series campaigns, the self-mailer hovered between 37 percent and 45 percent of all mail in these sectors from 2004 to 2007. This year, however, that figure dropped to just below 30 percent.
Lastly, few conclusions can be made regarding premium and personalization usage among clubs and continuity series mailers. The first four months of 2008 saw 55.2 percent of mail offering a premium, after posting near 60 percent in 2007 yet registering only 50 percent in 2006. In regard to personalization, 28.4 percent of efforts used this technique so far in 2008, which pretty much mirrors the last two years (26.2 percent in 2007 and 25.7 percent in 2006).