Recently, a coworker of mine handed me a printed report from the United States Postal Service — Office of Inspector General. It was titled Advertising Mail: Mail Mix Matters.” I set it aside promising myself I would read it. The report was 49 pages, and I was sure this was going to be a dry read. You know, like reading legal documents, the kind where you must be very awake. 

Much to my surprise, it was actually a pretty enlightening read. The report looks at the validity of the 3 Rs of advertising mail (Read – Reaction – Response) and what impact other classes of mail and outside demographics have on obtaining those 3 Rs. 

I was surprised to find that the mix of mail a recipient receives on any certain day alters the behavior of whether or not advertising mail is read. The presence of First Class and Periodical pieces in the mailbox actually increase the likelihood of a positive reaction and response to the advertising mail. Also adding to that likelihood are things like the size of the piece and a recipient having previously done business with the mailer. But most important is the advertising piece having a coupon. A coupon! I wonder if this ties to the head of the household being the same person obtaining the mail.

They also dug into age, education, technical know‐how and race. I’m sure you know this one: older households tend to read more of their mail than younger households. Yet this next one caught me off guard a bit: households with a college educated head of household are less likely to read advertising mail. The study also speaks to the finding that various races and ethnicities read far more advertising mail than we knew and could be an untapped marketing avenue.

Advertising mail is one of the bigger money makers for the post office. However, it seems the importance of First Class and Periodical Mail matter in achieving a well rounded reading of all the mail. Should it then be said that there is an underlying importance of ensuring that First Class and Periodicals don’t diminish further and make advertising mail less read?  

I find that an interesting and concerning dilemma.

If you would like to read the report it can be found here.