Women in DM Speaker: Direct Mail Is 'Booming'

NEW YORK — Jeffrey L. Kaiser provided plenty of optimism about the status and future of direct mail last week at the spring dinner of the Women in Direct Marketing International Inc. New York chapter.

“We're a $36 billion industry,” said Kaiser, purchasing manager in the global procurement department at American Express, New York, who attributed the total to the Graphic Arts Marketing Service Division of the Printing Industries of America. “I read a lot of white papers, and I've seen this number as high as $49 [billion].”

Kaiser also gave details such as:

· Direct mail represents 10 percent of all advertising spend.

· It represents 27 percent of print advertising.

· The figure jumps to 42 percent if you exclude newspapers.

“We're booming,” he said. “We're doing fine. We've got some issues, no doubt about it. Our future is very bright. I think we're on the precipice of some great technological advancements.”

He then turned to future growth, saying that the industry has the highest projected growth rate of all printed advertising through 2010.

“Right now we're at about 5-6 percent growth, [and] it will be through 2007-2008,” he said. “Then it's going to slow down a little bit.”

Kaiser discussed product distribution shifts.

“A lot of what I used to call the heavy mailers have gone by the wayside,” said Kaiser, who recalled his years at Reader's Digest. “If we thought that we could get a plus-2 from putting the kitchen sink in the envelope, it would've been in there. And we tried to put everything in there. I can remember doing packages where we would insert 14, 15 elements.

“We've shifted from very complex, value-added packages to much more concise, low-margin products. Sweepstakes is gone. Sweepstakes was massive. That's where the money was. The big drive now is financial services [and] catalogs. We're not putting 14 pieces in an envelope.”

Kaiser let attendees frequently interrupt his presentation with questions, and they also spent much of the evening asking questions of each other. Topics included data quality, paper prices and supply as well as the reasons behind the planned U.S. Postal Service rate increase.

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