The general consumer response to direct mail in the US has risen by 12% over the past two years, according to a recently published research report from marketing solutions provider, Vertis.
The firm's annual direct marketing survey, 2003 Customer Focus: Direct Marketing Study, also showed that readership of direct marketing material has remained steady across all demographic groups.
"The results indicate that this could be a good year for direct marketers," commented Scott Marden, director of marketing research for Vertis. "While 2001-2002 proved to be a challenging time for the industry, the new figures show that direct mail is having a strong impact on consumers, and that there has been a significant increase in the level of responses."
In 2001 just over one-third of adults (34%) said that they had responded to direct mail advertising in the past 30 days (either by mail, telephone, in person, or through a web site).
By 2003 this figure had increased to nearly half (46%). Moreover, the Younger Baby Boomer generation's response rates have risen most significantly, from 36% to 49%.
The year-to-year figures for weekly readership of direct mail proved remarkably consistent, remaining at a level 55%. However, weekly direct mail readership is growing most significantly among adults with a household income of US$75,000 or more (rising to 59% in 2003, up from 53% in 2002).
Almost three-quarters (74%) of the adults surveyed confirmed that they read direct mail, which is in line with 2002's total of 73%. Seniors and adults aged 35-44 represented the biggest percentage increases over the past year, rising from 65% to 75% (for the seniors) and from 73% to 78% (for those aged 35-44).
According to Vertis, the non-profit and direct life insurance industries were particularly successful in their direct mail communications over the past two years.
Some 59% of respondents said they had received direct mail during 2003 from non-profit organisations to which they contribute, compared with only 49% in 2001. Men and Younger Baby Boomers were most impacted by non-profit direct marketing, with both groups seeing increases of 12%.
Respondents to Vertis' survey also proved to be 6% more likely to purchase life insurance directly as a result of direct mail, telephone calls, or the internet, without seeing an agent (46% in 2003, up from 40% in 2001).
Commissioned by Vertis, and conducted by Marshall Marketing and Communication of Pittsburgh, Customer Focus tracks consumer behaviour across a variety of industry segments, including non-profit, insurance, financial, and fragrance. First carried out in 1998, the annual survey examines the behaviour of 2,000 adults across the US.