Trends & Future of Direct Marketing

The importance of direct marketing is understood throughout the graphic communications value chain of suppliers and printers. With print under attack and print revenues declining, direct marketing remains one of the few industry bright spots. With the growth of non-print direct marketing activities, and increasing competition from new forms of marketing and promotional tools, the role of print in direct marketing is under pressure.

To address this concern, PRIMIR recently published a new, 420-page study, Trends & Future of Direct Marketing. It examines direct marketing and how printed direct marketing channels are faring in light of a host of new non-print direct marketing options. Email, websites, social media, and mobile channels all pose threats to print.

The study covers the impact of technology, economic and social issues, environmental, postal rates, and demographics, as well as developments and differences in key vertical market sectors. J Zarwan Partners teamed up with INTERQUEST to conduct this research for PRIMIR members. The methodology included a review of primary and secondary literature; in-depth discussions with more than 160 industry experts, vendors, agencies, PSPs, and high-level marketing executives from various industry sectors; and separate quantitative surveys with 218 marketing executives and 291 print providers.


Trends in direct marketing

Direct marketing is a key component of the marketing mix. Direct marketing’s share of advertising expenditures has shown a strong upward trend over the past decade and continues to grow, accounting for nearly half of all advertising spending. In 2009, direct mail and telemarketing were the most important channels. Non-print media such as Web-direct, email, mobile, and social networks are increasing in importance.

The recession of 2007-2009 caused marketers to re-evaluate all advertising spending and particularly that of print. Direct mail was particularly hard hit. Since non-print channels are thought by marketers to be less expensive, the impact on them was less severe.

After two years of decline, direct mail and other print direct marketing channels are growing again; however, it will be some time, if ever, before print-based direct marketing spending reaches its pre-recession levels. As marketers evaluate marketing expenditures, printed direct marketing will likely continue to lose share to other marketing vehicles.


Print direct marketing media

Major print-based marketing channels include direct mail, catalogs, inserts and flyers, including newspaper pre-prints and free standing inserts (FSI), and transaction mail, including inserts and promotional messages printed on statements and invoices.

Not surprisingly, the research study revealed that print-based direct marketing faces a number of fundamental challenges. One key challenge for the recovery of print-based direct marketing is the rise of new, innovative, and purportedly less-expensive methods for reaching customers and prospects. In the PRIMIR research, marketers noted the cost of print and competition with electronic/digital direct marketing channels as the two biggest issues confronting print direct marketing. Other challenges and issues include timeliness, personalization, and measuring ROI.

Marketers, however, believe that print has a number of significant advantages, particularly deliverability and the ability to target finely. Marketing executives who were interviewed believe that print is more personal than other media and that customers prefer print. Other advantages for print include its tactile nature and the ability to produce better graphics.