Study: Publishers Turn More to Voucher Packages

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Just under half of the publishing offers tracked in a 2003 study by a list brokerage and data services firm were in the form of a voucher or professional courtesy package.


Almost 49 percent of 260 direct mail offers tracked by LDS Group Inc., New York, which specializes in the publishing market, contained vouchers.


The 260 offers in the study came from 115 individual mailers promoting 170 specific publishing titles throughout 2003. The study was based on decoy mailers received by LDS Group last year, according to the firm.


Voucher or professional courtesy packages are basic, no-frills mailings, said Richard Vergara, LDS co-founder and co-CEO.


"Vouchers are simple packages with little or no color that include a statement of benefits and an indication of cost savings," he said. "It yields very high cash with order payments and very high pay-up on the bill-me orders. We have clients who get 70-80 percent cash with order from vouchers and over 90 percent pay-up overall."


Though response rates tend to be lower than with other types of packages, the low cost and the pay-up make vouchers very appealing to mailers, he added.


Vergara said that use of the voucher package has increased steadily since the decline of sweepstakes offers and likely will continue to do so.


"We're hearing people say things about voucher packages that they were saying about sweepstakes five years ago," he said. "A lot of the people that are mailing voucher packages are saying that they can't beat it."


According to the study, common messages on the outer envelopes of these voucher packages included:


· Statement of benefits.


· Time-sensitive material; open at once.


· Corporate rate: do not bend.


· Reply by date.


· Explanation of benefits.


· Summary of benefits.


The other 51 percent of offers tracked in the study ran the gamut from letters to double postcards and even sweepstakes. Within these offers, trends were tracked by LDS Group. The study found that health and financial newsletter mailers used magalogs and 6-by-9-inch packages heavily in 2003. Sample copies were also a common device for several mailers promoting newsletters.


Use of premiums increased as incentives to lengthen the term of subscriptions. Cost reduction as the number of issues increased was also a trend in 2003, according to the study.


For more information or to request a copy of the study, e-mail jkobil@ldsgroupinc.com or rvergara@ldsgroupinc.com.


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