USPS OIG: Mail Stimulates More Important Buying Brain Centers Than Digital
If marketers want consumers to buy, send them direct mail. If they want consumers to be more stimulated for a shorter period of time, use digital ads, says new research from the USPS Office of the Inspector General. Or, allow the strengths in each channel to complement in other in a cross-channel campaign.
So says the USPS OIG’s report, “Enhancing the Value of Mail: The Human Response.” (Opens as a PDF) In part, the neuromarketing research published on Monday says:
- Participants processed digital ad content quicker but spent more time with physical ads.
- Participants had a stronger emotional response to physical ads and more easily recalled physical ads, both crucial when making a purchase decision.
- Physical ads triggered greater brain activity responsible for value and desirability for featured products, which signal a greater intent to purchase.
What USPS OIG calls “ad mail” represented more than $20 billion, or 31 percent, of the postal service’s revenue in fiscal year 2014. So to ensure it stays a top choice for marketers, USPS OIG says it’s important for USPS to find “new opportunities to maintain and enhance this critically important source of revenue,” according to the report.
This comes at a time when USPS is seeing increased package delivery revenue, but a precipitous volume drop in is former cash cow — First Class mail. Organizationally, USPS is also a bit removed from its ideal. On Wednesday, its board of governors remained at four, even as Giant Eagle CEO and President David Shapira’s nomination moved toward the Senate floor on Tuesday. Plus, there’s still no word on the stalled union negotiations that headed to mediation on May 28. (Though “postal unions are prohibited from striking,” a USPS spokeswoman tells Target Marketing that day.) Then on June 5, a U.S. appeals court ruled that the USPS exigent postage rate increase couldn’t go on forever. That decision came days after a May 31, nearly across-the-board 2 percent postage rate increase.
So USPS OIG has a point when it says the postal service needs to prove its worth to marketers who may be seeing less costly digital options as more desirable.
“Marketing and advertising decision-makers want to know where physical and digital media are most effective in the consumer’s buying process,” the research says. “While participants in this project showed no preference between physical and digital advertising when responding to surveys, neuromarketing techniques revealed different subconscious physiological responses among participants.”
What do marketers think of this research? USPS OIG says: “Companies such as Google, Disney, and Frito-Lay have used this type of research to measure actual, rather than self-reported consumer response to their advertisements or products.”
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Related story: 2% USPS Rate Hike Approved