Survey Reveals Increased Consumer Interest in Direct Mail, Other Traditional Media Channels

A  recent study released by R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, a leading global provider of marketing and business communications, reveals that traditional marketing channels, including word of mouth, direct mail, and in-store signage, are largely untapped by marketers. The study, based on surveys of both U.S. marketing professionals and consumers, uncovers significant differences between marketer assumptions and what consumers say actually influences their brand awareness and purchase decisions.

Among the findings, more than half (51%) of consumers were more excited to receive direct mail in the past year than they were in the year prior, with the highest levels among Gen Y (65%), Gen Z (57%), and Gen X (53%). Baby Boomers are least likely to be excited about receiving direct mail (36%). In store, consumers show a preference for retailers who effectively use signage and displays, with a majority (58%) saying in-store signage is influential in their purchase decisions. While 67% of marketers made significant changes to their marketing strategies in the past year, the consumer data suggests that marketers should continue to fine-tune their efforts and consider re-investing in traditional marketing channels.

As marketers evaluate such reinvestment, they may also want to consider using their platforms to address widespread misconceptions about the environmental sustainability of direct mail and other paper-based channels. A recent study commissioned by Two Sides North America found that a majority of consumers (67%) believe that electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than print on paper, but the facts do not support this conclusion.

The miniaturization of today’s electronic devices and the “invisible” nature of digital infrastructure and cloud-based services cause many to vastly underestimate the environmental footprint of electronic communication. This footprint includes the environmentally intensive mining of finite raw materials like iron, copper and rare earth minerals to produce electronic devices, massive amounts of mostly fossil fuel energy to manufacture and operate those devices and the server farms that support them, and an enormous and growing amount of e-waste, only 15% of which gets recycled.

In contrast, paper is an inherently sustainable product. It’s primary raw material is an infinitely renewable resource – trees grown, harvested and regrown in sustainably managed forests. It’s recycled more than any other material. And because paper manufacturing uses mostly renewable, carbon neutral biomass energy,  the U.S. pulp and paper industry contributes only 0.5% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Find more sustainability facts (with source citations) about paper products and electronic communications here.