USPS Commissions Brain Research on Direct Mail

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The Office of the Inspector General seeks neuroscientists to investigate human responses to digital and physical media.


The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Postal Service is in the process of reviewing neuroscience researchers to investigate the different ways the human brain responds to physical and digital media. Specifically, it would like to unearth scientific evidence of the role direct mail plays in consumer engagement and buying decisions.

OIG believes such a study could add a physiological research component to the growing body of analysis of consumer interaction across multiple marketing channels. Small- and medium-sized businesses that cannot afford such research could benefit from access to it through the Postal Service's “concierge services,” stated the OIG in a Request for Information it issued last month.

A 2010 study undertaken by Royal Mail in the U.K. found that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital messages did. It determined that messaging delivered via physical media was more internalized by people, leading to more intense emotional responses and memories that often increased the likelihood of conversion.

One of the directives OIG laid out for prospective researchers is to help companies understand optimal deployment of direct mail in multichannel campaigns. 

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