Junk Mail Still Effective, Study Shows

Junk mail seems to still bring benefits to business and will not vanish any time soon as a new study by the University of Sydney that measured the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns for larger discount stores points out.

Yes, there are many flyers, catalogues and who knows what other materials in your letterbox – along with bills. Yes, many people throw away those catalogues, but even if it is not an environmentally friendly advertising tool, the simple direct mail campaign is still paying off.

Charles Areni from Sydney University’s marketing department, the professor who studied the effectiveness of junk mail, says that there are visible results to such campaigns: “”In one case a sandwich toaster sales increased tenfold when that product was featured at a discounted price in the mail catalogue compared to when it was not featured, and of course we varied both the timing of the catalogues and which stores featured that product and we found a reliable increase and it was a huge one.” By comparison, in-store radio advertising had little or no effect on sales.

Professor Areni thinks that junk mail is most probably effective for any type of retailers. The reason why the method still works is, in his opinion, through it, people just happen to find a catalogue in their letterbox with a product they already intend to buy. “It is annoying because probably 95 per cent of what we get in our mailbox is entirely irrelevant, it is junk, but that 5 per cent 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,” he added.

The professor also said “Consumers are creatures of habit… it may simply take time for consumers to learn to listen for good deals while they shop. 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.”

I too must admit I look over the catalogues I receive. Some have a special scent, one that remind me of childhood and fashion and clothing catalogues from foreign countries, while some simply prove to be useful: find out about promotions from hypermarkets and so on. Also, given how there’s always something to do or that could be changed in the house, I look over such types of catalogues (yes, I am building a house now so I’m really interested in the offers available in the market).

I know people that don’t read catalogues received in their letterbox, but I know far more people that do just that. Perhaps similar studies should be conducted in other countries as well, in order to observe if there is a worldwide effectiveness of the direct mail campaigns, or if Australia is a special case.

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