Monday, December 24, 2007

Research Shows Consumers Value Direct Mail, But Misunderstand Environmental Impact

A new survey reveals that consumers value much of the direct mail they receive, but they also dramatically misperceive its true environmental impact. The findings suggest that industry efforts to educate the public will yield an improved perception of mail’s environmental footprint.

Consistent with other industry studies, consumers in this survey place a high value on the coupons and catalogs they receive in the mail. Mail also helps consumers start and maintain relationships with businesses and nonprofits, with 44 percent of respondents making their first purchase from a business and 33 percent making their first donation to a nonprofit because of a mail piece.

The survey found that negative perceptions of mail’s environmental impact are based on widespread public misunderstandings. For example, only 2 percent of Americans correctly guessed that mail makes up just 2 percent of the nation’s municipal waste, while an astonishing 48 percent believe that mail is half of the content in the nation’s landfills.

Americans also believe, incorrectly, that mail delivery is a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. The truth is that mail delivery falls well below many other daily activities in its carbon footprint, such as taking a shower or using household appliances.

The survey suggests that public education will enhance consumer perception of direct mail. For example, more than 70 percent of respondents said it would improve their view of mail if marketers used address correcting software to minimize undeliverable mail.

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