Mail the best way to reach consumers: Pitney Bowes study

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A new study claims that, despite today's digital world, consumers clearly prefer mail over other communications vehicles such as e-mail for receiving new product information and offerings as well as confidential business communications including bank statements and financial reports.

This was a key finding from a survey released June 11 by International Communications Research.

The study, the fourth mail preference survey commissioned by Stamford, CT-based Pitney Bowes since March 1999, found that the majority of consumers (73 percent) prefer mail for receiving new product announcements or offers from companies they do business with, as compared to 18 percent for e-mail. Mail was also preferred by 70 percent of respondents for receiving unsolicited information on products and services from companies with which they are not currently doing business.

For confidential communications such as bills, bank statements and financial reports, respondents overwhelmingly preferred mail (86 percent) as their channel of choice, as compared with 10 percent for e-mail. This response is virtually identical to the response in the 2004 survey, which also showed consumer preference for mail at 86 percent.

The survey also found that consumers are less likely to discard unopened mail (31 percent) - including new product brochures, catalogs or other advertising materials - than they are to discard unsolicited e-mails about new products (53.2 percent).

The survey also probed consumers on specific advantages they see in mail versus unsolicited e-mail and telephone calls.

Compared with other communications channels, including e-mail and telephone, survey respondents found mail to be: less intrusive - doesn't interrupt other activities (45.3 percent); more convenient - can be saved and considered at leisure (40.2 percent); less high-pressured - lets you consider your decision (30.2 percent); more descriptive - lets you picture the offer (22.7 percent); and more persuasive - encourages you to respond (12 percent).

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