Americans Scan Ad Mail, Study Finds

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A study on the use of mail by TNS Research, formerly Chilton Research Services, Horhsam, PA, found that Americans scan more than 88 percent of all advertising mail delivered to their homes, and 14 percent to 18 percent of these households plan to respond to mail after reading it.


The Household Diary Study collected information from 5,300 American households who kept a weekly diary of all the mail they received and sent in a one-week period during 1996 and 1997. The information was analyzed by class of mail, content, demographics and household attitudes towards mail.


According to the study, most households, 97.2 percent, still pay bills by mail, and household mail volume has declined from 69.1 percent in 1987 to 61.9 percent in 1997 because of telephone and electronic communications.


Other findings include:


* Six of seven advertising categories have increased during the past 11 years.


* 5 percent of all mail received at home is Standard A Mail, and 43.7 percent is First-Class Mail.


* ZIP +4 usage increased dramatically from 2.2 percent in 1987 to 69.4 percent in 1997.


* Nonprofit advertising mail receives the highest response rate.


* More than 82 percent of American households send their packages through the USPS.


Experts said the package-delivery number should increase this year because of the USPS' Delivery Confirmation service for Priority Mail and Parcel Post, which became available to USPS customers this week.


More than 300,000 handheld scanners have been deployed nationwide to support


Delivery Confirmation, which the USPS said will provide customers easy access to the delivery status of their mail pieces. Postal employees collect Delivery Confirmation data by scanning a barcoded label. The information will then be transmitted to a central database where it can be accessed by customers.


Retail customers will be able to access information, which includes the date and time of delivery and the ZIP code where the delivery was made, by calling a toll-free number or logging onto the Postal Service's Web site. Delivery information, which also includes attempted deliveries, forwarded or returned shipments, will be available and updated each evening.


Delivery Confirmation will be available at post offices nationwide. The retail rate is 35 cents for Priority Mail and 60 cents for Parcel Post. Rates are lower for customers who can send and receive Delivery Confirmation information electronically.


Later this year, a signature confirmation service will be launched.


The Household Diary Study is the world's largest and most comprehensive research study on the use of mail, according to the USPS. It has been conducted every year since 1987.
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