Vertis: 76% of Adult Consumers Read Direct Mail Ads

NEW YORK — Seventy-six percent of adult consumers read direct mail advertising, according to the Vertis Customer Focus: Direct Marketing 2005 survey, released at a media luncheon here yesterday.

Vertis, Baltimore, a targeted advertising, media and marketing services company, commissioned Customer Focus, a study that tracked consumer behavior across various industry segments. The survey was first conducted in 1998 and, in subsequent years, has been expanded and modified to identify emerging consumer behavior patterns and track shifts in consumer practices and motivations.

The survey of 2,000 adults, conducted in August and September by Marshall Marketing and Communication, Pittsburgh, measured general and industry-specific shopping trends.

In the survey, 39 percent of adult consumers said they occasionally read direct mail based on their needs and available time; 17 percent said they read all the direct mail for services and products they want or need; 12 percent said they read direct mail only from organizations they are familiar with; and 8 percent said they read all direct mail available to them.

The other 24 percent said they never read direct mail.

For the types of direct mail read, 73 percent said they read it from retail stores, up from 70 percent in 2003. For charity/fundraising direct mail it was 59 percent, up from 53 percent in 2003. Forty-six percent said they read direct mail from entertainment companies, such as Blockbuster, up from 45 percent in 2003. Also, 22 percent said they read direct mail from Web sites and Internet service companies, compared with 18 percent in 2003.

The study also found that women ages 28-48 were more likely to read retail, entertainment and fundraising direct mail, while men 28-39 were more likely to report reading entertainment or automotive direct mail.

The survey also found an increased importance connected to the appearance and messaging of direct mail. For example, when reporting factors that make a difference when opening direct mail, 63 percent cited a package that looks interesting, up from 49 percent in 2002.

Also, 51 percent said a special offer or discount makes a difference, up from 43 percent in 2002; 37 percent said a gift or token, versus 30 percent in 2002; and 33 percent said dated material, versus 27 percent in 2002.

“Because people are becoming bombarded with advertising and marketing messages today, people are putting a higher value on direct mail that attracts their attention or that includes a special offer or a free gift,” said Janice Mayo, senior vice president, national sales and marketing at Vertis. She hosted the luncheon.

The mail piece's timing and the need for service make the biggest difference to respondents regarding what type of mail they open, as 69 percent said this category mattered.

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