Cover Story: Top 50 Mailers
5 Trends in the Top 50
1. The Fundraiser Fall: There has been a major shift in the Top 50 during the past few years and that continued in 2014. Fundraisers are disappearing from the list, perhaps because for-profit direct mailers are squeezing them off of it.
Nonprofits have traditionally made up the largest portion of the list—half in 2012 and for many years before—but that ended last year when only 11 nonprofits appeared, the smallest total in quite some time. This year, that number fell to seven.
2. Catalogs and Retail Resurging: "Catalog" is now the largest industry on the list, with 11 representatives, one down one from last year's 12 (and cataloger Sahalie just barely missed the list this year, coming in at 51).
This year's most surprising trend may be the surge in retail mailings. Only two retailers made the list last year—mailing stalwarts Macy's and Sears, Roebuck & Co.—but six cracked it this year. They include some top direct mailers of the past (J.C. Penney, Bed Bath & Beyond, Victoria's Secret) along with the massive wholesale clubs Costco and BJ's. Surprisingly, Sears does not appear this time.
3. Insurance Evens Out: We saw a big upswing in insurance mailings last year as companies barraged customers and prospects with information and offers relating to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We went from two insurers on the list in 2012 to nine in 2013!
That trend appears to be leveling out. This year, there are six insurance companies on the list, and three of them (GEICO, State Farm, Allstate) are primarily automotive insurers, unaffected by the ACA. Will health insurers continue to mail at higher rates as ACA becomes more a part of everyday life? Only next year's list will tell.
4. Banks Not Too Big to Mail: Financial Institutions are always a solid block on the Top 50, and this year was no different. For the second year in a row, American Express was our top mailer, followed by Chase Manhattan Bank, and further down the list by Capital One, Citibank and Discover. That's half of the top 10 mailers coming from five of the largest financial institutions.