Leavey: Direct Mail Opportunities Thrive Overseas

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U.S.-based direct marketers should not let the growth of global e-commerce dissuade them from looking internationally for direct mail opportunities, said Thomas Leavey, director general of the Universal Postal Union, Bern, Switzerland.

Leavey, who oversees the consortium of 189 postal organizations across the world, will discuss these opportunities at the Direct Marketing Association's 82nd Annual Conference & Exhibition in Toronto later this month.

Citing China, Japan, Brazil and South Africa, he said there are many great potential areas for direct marketers. Also, although most parts of Europe are already well-developed in terms of direct mail, there are still some countries lagging behind.

"U.S. consumers receive about 703 pieces of mail each year - most of it direct mail - followed by Norway with 547 and Sweden with 493," said Leavey. "But, when you get to countries like France, Germany and Spain, it drops to about 300; so I would say that France has potential to move up to the levels of the U.S."

People order more through the mail after they've had a chance to get exposed to it, Leavy said. "The American model is very effective where the private sector and the U.S. Postal Service work closely together, and there are various incentive rates."

Also, he said the United States and Canada have well-developed mailing lists. "We have to aid direct mailers in developing a usable mailing list and post codes for each country. The U.S. market is generally a homogeneous market. But in Europe you have different languages, customs and cultural patterns.

The UPU is trying to come up with procedures that will standardize addressing, window envelopes and polywrapped pieces, Leavey said.

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