First USA Leads Direct Mail Pack in June, AMBM Says

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Though June traditionally is a slow direct mail month, the lazy weather didn't stop First USA, Wilmington, DE, from sending 88 different mailings to businesses and consumers, according to mail tracker American MailBox Monitor (AMBM), San Jose, CA.

In general, direct mail activity increased in June for credit-card issuers. Other companies that sent out large volumes of mail included MBNA, Wilmington, DE, which sent out 45 mailings; Capital One Financial Corp., Falls Church, VA, 43; AT&T Corp., New York, 42; and American Express, New York, 37.

The booming financial-services sector went beyond credit-card mailings.

"Banks, credit-card issuers and insurance companies all showed particular increases during the month," said Sallie May, a spokeswoman for AMBM. "Part of the reason for the growth in mail for these companies is because they are so large. We have found that the larger the bank or the company, the larger the volume of direct mail."

Of the 2,313 Standard-A and First-Class mailings tracked by AMBM in June, credit-card issuers ranked second in number of mailings. That category sent 452 mailings in June, up 30 percent, from 347 mailings in May. Banks finished third, with 448 mailings. The most active market sector for direct mail in June was books and magazines, accounting for 26 percent of the total activity, with 603 mailings.

"We have found that this category always sends out huge volumes of mail each month, including sweepstakes and other types of advertising," May said.

For example, in May this category also sent out the most mailings -- 538. June's numbers increased 12 percent over May.

Some categories sent less mail in June. AMBM tracked a "considerable decrease in the food and drink and the health sector, including pharmaceutical companies, compared to last month," May said.

Healthcare mailings fell 35 percent, to 72 mailings in June, while food and drink fell 26 percent, to 35 mailings.

As for food and drink, "this category is terribly seasonal." May said. "We always see more mailings near Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We will probably see that category start to rise as we get closer to those times."

Coca-Cola, however, was a large direct mail advertiser for the month.

Other sectors that saw less activity in June were computers, mortgages and loans, music and video, retail and utilities. Other findings:

* Three quarters of June's mailings were sent bulk rate -- about the same proportion as in May. The next most-widely used postage method was Presorted First-Class, which accounted for 17 percent. In May, this method accounted for 13 percent.

* Fewer prospect mailings were sent out in June -- 63 percent compared to the 68 percent mailed in May. The remaining 37 percent of mailings were either creative mailings (34 percent) or second-notice or follow-up mailings (3 percent).

AMBM receives direct mailings from a representative panel of 1,500 U.S. consumers and businesses every month.

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