Credit cards offer more rebates in fewer mailings
The annual credit card direct mailing volume for 2003 decreased by 12%, totalling only 4.29 billion mailers in the USA, compared to 2002's total of 4.89 billion mail pieces, according the latest Synovate 'Mail Monitor' study.
The year-on-year drop follows a record 5.01 billion credit card offers sent out by mail in 2001. The study also found that consumer response remained relatively low at 0.6%.
On average each month, some 69% of US households received 4.8 offers during 2003. In 2002, some 75% of households had received an average of 5.1 offers per month.
Major cutbacks "During 2003 typical seasonal mailing patterns went out of the window," commented Andrew Davidson, vice president of competitive tracking services for Synovate's Financial Services Practice. "90% of credit card direct mail comes from the 10 largest card issuers and, in 2003, half of those issuers cut back - causing the overall decline in mail volume."
In 2003, an all time record was set in the USA for personal bankruptcies and, despite recent improvements in the economy, unemployment still remains fairly high. "Card issuers have reacted to this environment by mailing fewer low introductory rate offers and by decreasing the frequency of mailings to lower income households," explained Davidson.
Reward offers boosted "At the same time," Davidson continued, "we have seen a significant increase in offers promoting rewards and cash rebates as issuers seek new ways to stand out from the clutter and acquire customers who are less likely to switch."
Some 1.27 billion reward offers were received by US households in 2003, up from 0.81 billion in 2002. Rebate card mail volume increased to 0.90 billion from 0.68 billion over the same time period.
"Although volumes were down for the year, I was encouraged by our December 2003 findings," Davidson said. "Many issuers who had cut back overall in 2003 finished with a strong December, and I would not be surprised if 2004 has begun with strong mailing volumes overall."