Canada Post Out to Draw US DMers North

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NEW YORK - Canada Post has launched another drive to attract more US direct marketers north of the border.

At a recent New York seminar, Marc Lemay, Canada Post's international direct marketing manager, pointed out that response rates in Canada were 25 percent higher than in the US, a function of uncluttered mail boxes.

Canadians receive an average of 1.3 catalogs per year with the range from zero in many rural areas to four in the larger cities, reflecting the different buying habits among the nation's 10 provinces and three territories.

Lemay also noted that Canadian shopping was "plastic" driven with 31 million credit cards in circulation; more than 35 percent of outstanding cards are based on the debit card system.

Targeting the Canadian market, he added, was easier than the country's vast geography would seem to suggest with "75 percent of the Canadian economy driven from the Windsor-Toronto corridor."

A third of Canada's 30-million-plus people live in three major metro areas - Montreal with 3.4 million, Toronto with 4.4 million and Vancouver with 1.9 million, while 75 percent live in areas of more than 100,000.

Lists are plentiful, he noted, with more than 2,600 mailing lists and alternative media programs commercially available. That includes 209 lists for French-speaking Quebec. BTB accounts for 31 percent of outstanding lists.

Renting costs are also much lower than in the US, in part because the US$-C$ rate is so skewed in favor of the greenback. As a result postal, printing and other direct marketing costs are also lower.

Quebec's 7.4 million people can be lucrative for those who know how to mine it properly, meaning that with 85 percent of the population "francophone," it is advisable to mail catalogs and other mail pieces in French.

Language adaptation adds 20 percent to the cost, but Lemay pointed out that French is spoken outside of Quebec province as well. Some 45 percent of the population in Ottawa, the capital, speaks French, for example.

Mail pieces, he suggested, should be "Canadianized," to some extent in the type of language used and always in pricing.

Postal rates are steady with no major increases anticipated and, such hikes are always announced six months in advance.

Postal codes also help marketers target prospects more closely. "Postal codes can cover as few as 9 homes," Lemay said. Codes are always listed in the same format with the first character , always a letter, generally designating a province or territory.

Services tailored for direct marketing include electronic lettermail, a network of distributed print sites. Addressed admail supports relationship marketing. n

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