Junk Mail Works Down Under

Discussion
May 07, 2012

Some may find it annoying, but direct mail (AKA junk mail) is effective. At least that’s the case in Australia, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Sydney measured the sales results of products marketed through in-store radio versus mail circular advertising in 95 variety discount stores. A huge lift was found from junk mail efforts, ranging in magnitude from a 67 percent increase for disposable razors to a dramatic tenfold increase for toasters. By contrast, in-store radio advertising had little or no effect on sales.

Speaking to Australia’s ABC News, Charles Areni, a marketing professor from Sydney University, said he believes despite people’s annoyance over cluttered mailboxes and growing eco-concerns, mail circulars still work because people tend to find one catalog in their mailbox that is marketing a product they already intended to buy. He stated, "It is annoying because probably 95 percent of what we get in our mailbox is entirely irrelevant; it is junk. But that five percent that is relevant to what we’re planning to buy or where we’re planning to shop, it provides sales, and that’s why retailers are going to continue doing it."

Familiarity also plays a factor.

The professor said in a press release, "Junk mail is a very common form of advertising for this type of store, and as they arrive regularly at the beginning of the month, it could be that consumers may simply be used to looking for them."

Still, Peter Mclean, CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful, not surprisingly called on retailers to be more innovative in their marketing to avoid the severe eco-impact of such efforts. He tells ABC News, "It’s a very cluttered market space, so if you’re advertising in that space you’re not necessarily going to be heard unless you start to generate massive, massive amounts of published material and that of course has an environmental and a litter impact as well."

Discussion Questions: What do you see as the future of direct mail communications both through the postal service and newspapers? Is there a way to achieve the same results without the environmental downside of direct mail?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "Junk Mail Works Down Under"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Adrian Weidmann
Guest
10 years 19 days ago

As the cost of paper and the value of trees increases, and the cost to distribute junk mail increases and the marketing value of this channel will continue to erode. Marketers need to think with far more innovation in this connected-consumer landscape. I for one get extremely irritated when I dump a large quantity of paper in our recycling bin, realizing that 99% of the time the campaign was a complete waste of trees and money for our household. How many other households believe the same? At the very least, I would hope marketers can at least be more targeted in this environment. In the majority of cases I always envision some marketer somewhere presenting ‘opportunity to see’ percentages and statistics in the effort to legitimize the expense and resources. There are, and will continue to be, far more relevant and cost-effective methods to connect with your audience. At least convey an interesting story.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 19 days ago

Junk mail is more effective than ever through the post office because recipients get so little else in the mail these days. Junk mail gets noticed and read more now than back in the days when everything else came in the mail too.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
10 years 19 days ago

There was one memory I have of Australia (and of course not one of my top ten)…but they only seem to get mail between Monday and Friday. Something our country could benefit from. And the great comment when I had noticed it was “you get mail Monday to Friday, who wants mail on the weekend?” But, on Saturday, was when there were for the sake of explanation, private companies that would distribute what we would refer to as “junk mail.” So for those interested, you knew when it was coming, you could plan for it, and for those companies communicating in this manner they could impact a specific need, like for example a Sunday, one-day sale.

Alison Chaltas
Guest
Alison Chaltas
10 years 19 days ago

As email and social media communications consume so much more of our marketing energy and budgets, good old fashioned direct mail can make real impact. There is less of it, less frequently, so we actually read it more. Funny world where good old fashioned “junk” mail clears though the electronic clutter.

In addition to higher costs and sustainability issues, paper direct mail has a new challenge: electronic communications have raised the bar on customization. No longer will consumers accept standard one-size fits all direct mail. The days of effective mass mailings are dead (unless they offer huge discounts). To build real trial and equity through mail, requires a customized approach … and getting your database right to understand who you area speaking with, what they want and need, and why.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
10 years 19 days ago

Junk mail is in the eye of the receiver. What is junk mail to one is advertising to another. Newspaper circulars have been a staple for food retailers, but the declining number of newspaper readers is continually reducing their effectiveness. Direct mail pieces have the same 3 second impression as political card mailings. For the next 5 years retailers must use all forms of direct consumer communication adjusting frequency and offering as their target consumers move to electronic formats.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
10 years 19 days ago

It is not so obvious to me that e-commerce will make direct mail campaigns the next marketing dinosaur. Instead, there might be an evolution to a more direct and personal approach to the consumer. This combined effect is getting easier for the marketer every day. Retailers now have countless transactions to review which have many positive insights about about their customers. This information can be used to keep consumers informed with the latest product information and new improved pricing that is pertinent to their lifestyles and or current goals.

Finally, mail isn’t what it was 25 years ago. E-mail is and will continue to grow as a marketing venture and the companies that use it with the proper intention and diligence will see it grow significant sales revenues as well as company growth in terms of size and scope.

Tom Redd
Guest
10 years 19 days ago

Direct mail is a key element for small business growth. Many small operations survive on the results of their mailings. Proof for my region: my daughter works in the marketing prep dept of a shop that creates and mails the direct marketing cards. They do not really have a sales team — the small business owners, retail and non-retail alike come to them for help. Her group helps to target the consumer that the business wants to reach and spins up the materials.

Environmental issues? Today, everything is recycled. Direct mail or marketing materials cannot be and should not be a big issue. Now beer cans are more of a concern…too many loose beer cans and bottles….

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
10 years 19 days ago

All marketing evolves. What was effective last year won’t be effective next year.

My experience is that those with expertise or a bias for one channel tend to summarily dismiss other media as if their product were automatically superior. It’s not that easy.

The novelty of email has worn-off. Consequently it is no longer as effective as it used to be. Many, perhaps most, are inundated with email to the point of revulsion. Conversely, and to another panelist’s point, we don’t receive as much direct mail, consequently it is more likely to be opened and read.

It’s an omni-channel environment. Successful marketing is a balance, leveraging the strengths of each medium. The only ‘hard and fast rule’ is that there are no ‘hard and fast rules’.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
10 years 19 days ago

My issue with the Australian study is that it only examined in-store radio ads vs direct mail. It may be that many shoppers already determined what they wanted to buy – i.e., shopping lists prepared at home — so any in-store ads had limited impact. If this study had compared direct mail to a variety of other forms of advertising, I’d feel more confident in its findings.

That said, look for direct mail to continue to lose favor with consumers and retailers for a variety of factors, including postal fees, environmental concerns and the increasing use of technology by shoppers and merchants. But, I don’t expect direct mail or newspaper circulars to completely disappear. Catalogs are still a viable form of marketing that can be delivered to mailboxes, and they have pass-along value. And, the coupons and sale circulars delivered via direct mail and newspapers do help today’s more cost-conscious and savvy shoppers plan their trips and save dollars.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

When will mail or newspaper circulars cease to be the primary way retail chains reach customers?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...