Westvaco Hopes New Coupon Envelopes Seal Business With DMers

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Westvaco Corp. is rolling out its Inner Coupon Envelope product, a follow-up to the Outer Coupon Envelope that it began pitching last fall.


Both products were designed to make mail efforts more eye-catching to consumers during a time when people are hit consistently with other direct marketing messages such as e-mail, according to the firm. Promotional versions of the envelopes include an image of fiery flames beneath the copy, "If you've got an offer that sizzles, you need an envelope that's just as hot!"


While multiple types of companies can use the products, they are geared primarily toward marketers interested in making special offers in billing statements.


Developed by Westvaco's envelope division, the Inner Coupon Envelopes involve perforated coupons that tear from the outside and lead the recipient into the mail piece. As an example, a credit card marketer could offer customers upgraded credit lines or additional cards and accounts with the coupon.


Traditional direct mail companies should find the envelope attractive, said Donald McKenzie, president/CEO of Communication Concepts Group, Ivyland, PA, a direct mail and e-mail marketing services firm.


"I think the Super Coups, the Val-Paks and the Advos will see that the inside coupons can generate an immediate interest," he said. "I think they could serve as a wonderful teaser. They just make a lot of sense."


The inner and outer envelopes are approved by the U.S. Postal Service for automation discounts. The patented envelopes are insertable on both Bell & Howell and Pitney Bowes mail processing equipment.


Westvaco, Springfield, MA, would not divulge the number of clients generated by either envelope to date. However, it claims that the envelopes have produced repeat customers. The company said it has agreements with its customers not to disclose any information such as their names or marketing habits, so neither the firms using the envelopes nor their response results were available.


However, Westvaco said it has moved more than 20 million Outer Coupon Envelopes since last fall.


The two envelope products have sold at similar rates since the recent release of the Inner Coupon Envelope, said Karl Unger, commercial marketing manager at Westvaco's envelope division.


"But it's too early to get any more specific than that," he said.


The Outer Coupon Envelope has the tearaway coupon placed just below the opening of the envelope. Offers can be made on the front of the coupon or the back.


Unger said the Outer Coupon Envelope is probably better suited than the inner version for cross-selling partners' products and services. He said the outer coupon version makes sense for companies such as large financial services firms that send numerous billing statements.


"By doing this, they will be paying a fraction of the cost [in comparison] to doing their own mailing," Unger said.


He said a lot of the marketing allure for the envelopes lies in the idea that consumers are not used to seeing coupons placed on the outside of an envelope.


"It's not an afterthought [for consumers] like return envelopes can be," he said. "Plus, the recipients are still in a good mood before they open the statement and see what they owe."


The Outer Coupon Envelope was one of five winners in the Idea Forum category during the Spring National Postal Forum in March in Orlando, FL. Pricing for the envelopes varies greatly and depends on size, paper stock, number of windows, quantity ordered and printing costs.


Besides envelopes, Westvaco offers other packaging materials as well as paper and specialty chemicals.


In related news, the company announced May 16 that it has completed its acquisition of Alfred Wall AG, a longtime Austrian firm that offers packaging for consumer products.


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