Stat of the Month: Merchandisers
As shown in the recent USPS Household Diary Study that was spotlighted in the DMA 2010 Statistical Fact Book, merchants don't appear to be doing too badly in the mail these days. Over half (51.1 percent) of household prospects that get merchandising mail take it and "read immediately." How many respond? According to the study, 15.6 percent! In direct mail math, that's an A-plus response rate.
So, how does our own Who's Mailing What! Archive support that finding? What are merchants doing differently in the mail recently to garner such attention and response?
Of the 220 categories in our Archive, the world's greatest library of direct mail, 31 of them involve merchandise — and they all appear to be especially vulnerable categories when such a thing as a recession reveals its hideous head. They include fashion, cosmetics, DVDs, supplements, furniture, foods, wine clubs, pet supplies and sporting goods — all of which you'd figure many Americans may be trying to cut down on their consumption of until the economy and their bank accounts appear healthier.
One thing merchants are seemingly doing is mailing less frequently — perhaps targeting better along with reducing volume. After taking up 5.4 percent of the mailstream in 2006, the past three years merchants have hovered in the 4.5 percent range. Amid these efforts, merchants are not standing pat with old efforts. 35.2 percent of 2005 merchant mail and 32.4 percent of 2006 merchant mail were repeat mail, but that's been practically cut in half since. In fact, after plummeting to 18.1 percent in 2007, it's continued to go down, all the way to 17.3 percent in 2009. That means 82.7 of 2009 efforts were brand spanking new!
Meanwhile, in order to capture the attention of prospects and garner better responses, the usage of both premiums and personalization rose again in 2009, after dipping in 2008. In 2009, 24.1 percent of merchant mail used premiums and 27.5 percent personalized the efforts, a rise of 8.7 percent and 11.3 percent.