Study Opens Eyes About Who Opens Envelopes

Women respond to personalization on envelopes more than men, according to a study released today by the Envelope Manufacturers Association Foundation. The study also found that blacks and Hispanics are less responsive to envelopes in general, though personalization strikes a stronger chord among Hispanics.

The study, “Because It's Personal: A Study of Consumer Use and Preference for Envelopes,” also reported that 75 percent of Americans say they are most likely to pay attention to “direct mail sent to my home.” This was three times more than “unsolicited e-mail,” “Internet banner or pop-up ads,” “calls to my home,” “a person coming to my door at home” and “text message to my mobile phone” combined.

“Envelopes bring a personal touch,” said Robert J. Muma, chairman of the foundation's advisory council for the “Open for Business With a Personal Touch” public relations campaign. “It is from me to you. It's not just an electronic image or a voice or a television image. It's something you can touch. Also, [it offers] the security, privacy and the intimacy that maybe some of the other print vehicles don't have.”

Muma, senior vice president of sales and marketing at National Envelope Corp., Long Island City, NY, is former chair of the foundation. The study is part of the group's PR campaign, which also launches this week.

“The campaign is about educating people and will involve working with other stakeholders in the industry,” he said. “We want to get the next generation of direct marketers to understand the value proposition of using envelopes — the college students and up-and-coming direct marketers.”

The campaign will target ad agencies, marketers at major corporations and others and run 12 months to two years. It will include a direct mail element and a scholarship or design competition as part of its outreach to marketing and advertising programs in colleges and universities.

For the study, the EMAF commissioned a series of focus groups and a national online survey. Focus groups were conducted in September with consumers ages 21-55 and with three business audience segments: direct mail managers at nonprofits, creative directors at PR and ad agencies and executives at DM firms.

Afterward, a national online survey of 1,800 consumers was conducted with a demographically representative cross-section of Americans 18 or older. Results were weighted to reflect 2002 Census demographics, and they have a 2 to 3 percent margin of error at 95 percent confidence. GolinHarris conducted the study in collaboration with market researcher Insight Express.

Another finding was the top three things Americans say they “always or usually” do with envelopes containing marketing, advertising or promotional material they receive by mail:

· 66 percent open the envelope if they think the contents might be interesting.

· 61 percent open it if they think the contents will be of personal interest to them.

· 59 percent open it if they can clearly identify the purpose/sender from the envelope.

Also, 41 percent say they value and pay more attention to marketing materials mailed to them in an envelope, versus 16 percent who say they value and pay more attention to mailed postcards or fliers without an envelope.

The top types of merchandise Americans say they buy as a result of direct mail solicitations that arrive in an envelope are: books (43 percent), magazines (42 percent), clothing (40 percent), movies/videos/DVDs (29 percent) and music (25 percent).

A majority of Americans prefer bills mailed in envelopes over ones delivered online. The study found that 82 percent want a hard copy to keep as a record; 57 percent trust mailed bills in an envelope more; 43 percent think bills in mailed envelopes are more private; 41 percent think bills in mailed envelopes are more secure.

“People like to have that tangible, original statement in the mail,” Muma said. “Even if they are doing some online transactions, they feel much safer getting their statement in an envelope.”

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