Perception of Mail's Value at Risk, USPS Study Finds

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WASHINGTON -- Thirty-nine percent of consumers think their next mail delivery will have little or no value, according to a "Mail Moment" study released yesterday at the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting at postal headquarters.

"Magazines, bills, catalogs, direct mail -- too much of the mail is being perceived as not being of value," said Greg Whiteman, manager of market research at USPS. As a result, "all parts of the mail industry must focus on ways to improve the value of mail."

The study, based on focus groups the USPS conducted recently with consumers, also found that older consumers have a better relationship with and perception toward mail than younger consumers.

When asked, "How dependent are you on the mail?" 60 percent of consumers 60 and older said they were "really dependent on the mail, [they would] be lost without it," Whiteman said. But only 46 percent of consumers ages 50-59 said they were dependent on mail, 43 percent of consumers 40-49 and 41 percent of consumers 40 and younger.

"When you get down to the 20s, consumers were even less dependent on it," he said. "Improving the value of mail is critical if we want to retain younger consumers in the mail."

However, the study also found that mail helps consumers run their households and that mail is so central to running the household that one person -- whom Whiteman called the mail CEO -- usually manages the mail in each household. Typically, this person also handles the shopping and manages the finances, he said. Two-thirds of these mail CEOs are female.

"This is very important to direct marketers," he said.

Collecting the mail also is a moment of pleasure, the study found.

"It is a time when the consumer is leaving behind the stress of work and enjoying the home life," Whiteman said. "So, communicating with a home through that gateway, you are giving your organization the opportunity to get that first initial contact."

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