The estimated amount of direct mail sent by credit card companies in the United States dropped 3% from December 2007 to January 2008, according to research from Mintel Comperemedia, a media monitoring service.
The decrease is representative of a trend that first started in October. According to the report, mail sent by credit card companies has declined by 19% since October of 2007. Mintel Comperemedia speculated that the change in mail volume is the result of an “unsteady, unsure market.”
“There have been a few peaks and valleys in 2007, but we observed consistent monthly declines starting in October 2007,” said Lisa Hronek, a senior research analyst for Mintel Comperemedia, when reached by e-mail. “Overall, mailings observed during 2006 were higher than 2007.”
From December 2007 to January 2008, direct mail sent to current cardholders dropped by 30%, the report said. In contrast, mailings to non-customers increased by 7%.
During the same period last year, direct mail sent by credit card companies increased by 7%, Hronek said. Overall, there were more offers sent to both non-customers and existing customers last year. However, the year before that, from December 2005 to January 2006, there was a decrease of 5%, she added.
Not every credit card company decreased its direct mail efforts from December 2007 to January 2008. Six of the top 10 mailers of 2007 actually increased mailings to non-customers from December to January, Mintel Comperemedia said. However, four out of the 10 reduced mailings to non-customers and existing cardholders.
These top ten mailers included in the reporte were Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, American Express, Capital One Bank, Discover, Washington Mutual, Barclays Bank and First Premier Bank, Hronek said.
When contacted earlier this year, Paul Hartwick, a spokesman for Chase, confirmed that the company had decreased the amount of direct mail it sends out.
“In general, our direct mail efforts have decreased as we have acquired customers through different channels, including our branch network, the channels of our co-brand partners and the Internet,” Hartwick said in an e-mail.
In contrast, when contacted in late February, a representative from American Express stressed the importance of mail in its direct marketing efforts.
“Direct mail is an extremely important part of our mix, we remain committed to direct mail and it continues to be a successful channel for us for not only acquisition but also as a way to communicate and educate our card members on the benefits and services they have,” said Desiree Fish, VP of public affairs for American Express. “It continues to increase as does the other channels for us.” she added.