ICOM Creates Hybrid List Product

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ICOM Information & Communications, Toronto, is building its U.S. list properties by mailing a comprehensive survey to 25 million households every six months. The survey results are analyzed to create lists that are neither response nor compiled but somewhere between.

ICOM has been mailing surveys since 1985. It started out targeting select regions of Canada, went national there in 1988 and entered the U.S. market in 1994. The surveys contain four pages of questions on consumer buying habits for certain products and demographics. The survey questions are changed for every mailing, and about 50 percent focus on the pharmaceutical and packaged goods sectors.

The 25 million targeted households are also rotated to reach all U.S. households within a 2-year period. ICOM rents the ADVO list of households to reach every mailable address in the United States.

Catherine McIntyre, general manager of ICOM's list division, said the surveys -- which come with a postage paid return envelope -- generate a 15 percent to 18 percent response rate that translates to nine million new households in its database every year. Survey respondents are asked if they wish to receive offers from advertisers and nearly 90 percent indicate they would, which qualifies them as direct mail-order buyers.

"To a certain degree, it's a response list since we get the surveys back," McIntyre said. "Clearly for certain market sectors, like catalogs, we have to work harder, but a number of customers have told us our list works as well or better than their house file."

ICOM uses recommendations from mailers and brokers and tracks business and industry trends to determine what types of lists to build.

The firm just brought three new lists to the market: the 230,000-household Internet purchases list, the 160,000 online banking list, and the 1 million grandparent list, which also includes the age and gender of grandchildren. McIntyre said all three will double in size by June. The grandparent list had already been tested by mailers of children's magazines, gifts and fundraisers geared to children.

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