Valpak Redesign Looks to Improve on Winning Formula

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While many direct mailers might be happy with a recognizable mail piece and an 80 percent open rate, mega-coupon mailer Valpak has launched a repositioning campaign to win over the remaining 20 percent and attract national advertisers.

For starters, the ubiquitous blue envelope that reaches 46 million U.S. households monthly underwent a makeover and dropped in its new form for the first time Dec. 26 to arrive in homes Jan. 2.

Though consumers may not notice much difference, changes were made outside and in, said Melissa Fisher, vice president of marketing and communications at Cox Target Media, Largo, FL, which owns Valpak.

"We recognize that changing the wrapper doesn't change what the product is," she said. "Not only is it an envelope change as far as our look, but also it's really a structural change within the company to make us more appealing and more effective for national advertisers."

The new Valpak envelope, which represents the first change in 15 years, kept the familiar blue hue and the Valpak logo but eliminated the window that allowed the coupons inside to show through. The Web address was made more prominent on the envelope.

More important than the envelope redesign was a change in how Valpak's 220 franchisees mail by synchronizing mail dates.

"Previously, franchise owners picked their own mail date, so it was really impossible for a national advertiser to use Valpak," Fisher said.

As a result, Valpak gained promotional partners such as CBS, which is promoting its new Monday night lineup through a Valpak promo.

Valpak also is encouraging its current advertisers to make better offers and its franchisees to pursue better advertisers, Fisher said.

"We have initiatives with our franchise owners to go after the top 10 categories of businesses that we know our consumers want," she said.

Valpak does extensive research including focus groups, panel studies and telephone surveys to determine what consumers want and how they respond to the Valpak mail pieces. According to these studies, 80 percent of Valpak's audience opens the envelope and reviews all the offers and 70 percent of those people respond to at least one offer.

Despite those statistics, Valpak hopes to reconnect with consumers who may not have opened Valpak lately, Fisher said.

It will air television ads later this month and print ads next month in Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart Living to coincide with Valpak mailings.

"We're really trying to reposition ourselves as value mail," Fisher said. "It's only junk mail if what's in it isn't of value to our consumers. We like to consider ourselves value mail, and if we're not there yet we're on our way."

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