Affix a tail and a spool of string to this 10-1/2" x 14" mailing from Consumer Reports and you could fly it like a kite. Size is a factor with creative formats, and big mailings can mean big results in the mailbox.
So impressed was Consumer Reports parent Consumers Union with the performance of a similarly sizeable mail piece that's been pulling results for its On Health publication for the last year or so, the non-profit testing and information organization gave it a try with its flagship publication.
"We tested it last summer and rolled out with it in January," explains circulation director Simon Aronin of the attention-grabbing piece. "We have found out that size countsthat bigger pieces get better response."
The piece is a super-sized rendition of another Consumer Reports control, consisting of a four-page letter, a comparison shopping quiz and an insert boasting free gifts. These elements are printed on jumbo, 9-1/2" x 12" stock. The mailing also includes a perfed-out 8" x 91/2" reply card and large BRE.
"This is an upsize, with very little modification, of an existing #11 control package," explains Aronin.
The original package is in four-color; this mailing is in three-color, giving it a slightly different feel.
The outer envelope, which opens with a perforated strip, shouts "Which Products Would You Choose?," then offers a sample of the quiz questions that appear inside. It's a great involvement device, and, coupled with other OE teasers like "the surprising answers to these and other questions inside..." printed below and "complimentary gifts for:" printed above the address, it's a strong team effort to move the recipient to at least open this package. It's a concern given the package's added cost.
"The piece is obviously more expensive to produce and to mail, since it's sent as a flat," offers Aronin.
Another modification from the original package is personalization. Each element of this mailing includes the recipient's name. In total, it appears seven times throughout the package.
"I'm not sure what's getting us the lift, the personalization or the size," says Aronin. "The nice thing when you have something that works is that you don't have to worry about why it works, except to think about how to make it work better."
It's a process he's engaged in continually.
While bigger may be better, results from the On Health package indicate that the format may have it's own particular disadvantages.
"The On Health package seems to be fatiguing," explains Aronin. "It's the kind of [mailing] where people start to recognize it."
Which is to say that the size is a double-edged sword. The size makes it effective but recognizable.
So Consumer Reports is currently testing different outer envelopes with the same package to try to get a better reading on the package's life cycle.
It's a fine line. It's important to stand out, but mailings that are too recognizable might not last as long as you'd hoped they would.