One-third of European consumers (32%) consumers say they would actively respond to affinity marketing messages sent by mail, according to a report from mailstream technology firm Pitney Bowes.
By "affinity marketing" the company refers to the 'piggy-backing' of marketing communications from other companies onto ordinary corporate mailings and communications. Often the partner company chosen operates in a related market, making the affinity partnership appear more rational and relevant to customers.
Transactional marketing parallel
Pitney Bowes makes the parallel between this healthy response to third-party affinity messages and the rise of marketing messages on bills and statements (which the company calls "trans-promo" marketing).
Trans-promo marketing has traditionally been used to up-sell or cross-sell the biller's own products and services. But the UK is set to follow trends in Japan and the US where transactional communications now tend to feature prominent affinity marketing messages from relevant third parties.
The company's latest survey asked consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy whether, if a company they already deal with mails them a communication featuring an offer from a third-party, they would be more likely to respond to that offer.
Source: Pitney Bowes (August 2007)
There is an obvious disparity between Anglo Saxon consumers and those in the 'romance countries'. The French, Italian and Spanish are far more likely to respond to affinity messages than consumers in the UK and Germany. Indeed, according to the report, there is a sense that consumers living in the more developed marketing nations of the UK and Germany receive greater exposure to different selling methods than their counterparts in France, Italy and Spain. As a result, UK and German consumers are slightly more cautious about embracing marketing's next serious technique.
But this does not necessarily mean that the results for Germany and UK are discouraging, as even 16% of the UK's consumers represents a significant pool of prospects who will respond to the technique - more than enough to make the effort worthwhile in terms of return on investment.
A welcome technique
According to David Jefferies, marketing director for Pitney Bowes, "There is a healthy welcome for affinity marketing from consumers across Europe. The technique itself is not new, but its usage in mailed communications is not yet particularly widespread. But an exciting development comes with the opportunities afforded by trans-promo communications."
The report also confirmed that many European businesses that send large volumes of transactional mail are already seeking out partnerships with affinity companies, and that marketers are increasingly recognising the usefulness and positive revenue implications of marketing through transactional documents. According to Pitney Bowes, previous research has showed that most consumers tend to pay closer attention to transactional documents than to simple adverts received by mail, and also tend to retain them for longer periods.