Banta Touts Sample-Mailing Program at DMA Show

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TORONTO -- Banta Corp.'s direct marketing unit debuted a process at the DMA's annual conference here this week that will let the printing giant end its dependence on outside firms for affixing product samples to mail pieces, and Banta hopes the technology will attract business from consumer packaged goods firms concerned about brand loyalty.

Prior to the new process, Banta, Menasha, WI, turned to smaller firms for attaching product samples - dish liquid, cologne or phone cards, for example - to the direct mail its clients sent out to prospective customers. Typically, a single machine operated by an outside supplier can turn out between 8,000 and 10,000 pieces per hour, according to Banta vice president for sales William Mattran. The new process, called A-fixx, can churn out 750,000 pieces per day. Banta anticipates cutting those other firms out of the loop now with its faster procedure, executives said.

"Time-to-market has to do with new product launches particularly, because in the consumer packaged goods industry -- if somebody can get a sample out there faster than the next company, then they're the first one with that in the hands of the consumers," Mattran said.

Banta has carried out one campaign so far, helping Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, launch a new fragrance for a liquid household detergent last month. The company has commitments to carry out six campaigns for UK packaged goods firm Unilever PLC next year. Banta expects those companies and others with whom it has established relationships, such as Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp., to use A-fixx to boost their brand loyalty.

"One of the reasons we developed this technology is we're hearing from our consumer products customers that brand loyalty Ö is extended through product sampling, while couponing tends to [encourage switching behavior]," said Debora Haskel, Banta director of business development.

Typically such mailings include the "carrier vehicle," - the mail piece or magazine insert with promotional or direct response elements - along with the product sample itself. Up to now, the problem has been bringing the two together.

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