'Ritual' around marketing mail, its physical presence allow brand content to take root, spur action



Emotions associated with receiving, reading, keeping mail help to explain why it continues to resonate with consumers

Now new research offers fresh insights into why an enduring marketing tool breaks through the noise so effectively. Breaking Through the Noise is an ethnographic study that explores how consumers behave with mail, their attitudes and emotions toward it, and how they interact with it. The study Breaking Through the Noise examined how consumers experience, engage with and manage mail: physical mail, email and social media (Facebook).

Key findings include:

  • Collecting mail is part of the “coming home” routine, and is so embedded in life that many consumers have “ritualized” it – or made it a routine that is significant for them. People tend to sort it in the same part of the home every time: the kitchen, home office, living or dining room. Every time a brand contacts a customer via mail, it is a unique opportunity embed themselves within and benefit from the positive emotions of arriving in the intimate home setting. This can increase a consumer’s openness to offers.
  • Consumers are far more likely to notice, open and read mail than digital forms of advertising. Consumers state they are more likely to notice and read direct mail than email. One third say direct mail is the most effective way to get them to remember a product or service.
  • More than twice as many consumers say they enjoy receiving direct mail than digital advertising. They’re more likely to associate feelings of happiness or surprise with physical advertisements, while digital ads are more often experienced as distracting or intrusive. 
  • Direct mail is kept – catalogues and flyers often in the living room, other promotional mail on the fridge or by the couch, restaurant menus in a kitchen drawer. Mail that is kept and displayed presents repeated opportunities to engage the consumer.
  • Direct mail persuades, starting by being a go-to source of information and inspiration early in the purchase journey. More than 9 in 10 consumers say they get ideas for household shopping from flyers, and check grocery flyers at least once a month. Around one in five used unaddressed mail for unintentional purchases, and one in three use it to help with planned purchases.
  • Direct mail drives traffic, and is a powerful complement to the digital channel: a significant portion of consumers visit a website or a store, or engaged in social media, in response to receiving direct mail or a catalogue.