In early 2010 PRIMIR commissioned J Zarwan Partners with INTERQUEST to investigate direct marketing and where opportunities exist for the graphic communications industry.
The new PRIMIR study “Trends and Future of Direct Marketing” examines direct marketing and in particular how printed direct marketing channels are performing in light of a host of new non-print direct marketing options. E-mail, web sites, social media, and mobile channels, among others, all pose threats to print.
The study addresses the impact of technology, economic and social issues, environmental concerns, postal rates, and demographics, as well as developments and differences in more than 16 key vertical market sectors such as retail, finance, insurance, healthcare and business services. J Zarwan Partners teamed up with INTERQUEST to conduct this important research for the PRIMIR members. In addition to responses from more than 550 individuals with knowledge about the graphic communications industry and direct marketing, the extensive methodology included a review of primary and secondary literature.
The resulting report reveals that 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 (31%) and telemarketing (29%) were the most important channels. Of concern to the graphic communications industry, however, are non-print media such as web-direct, e-mail, mobile, and social networks which have increased in importance and share.
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. Despite the challenges, however, marketers believe that print has a number of significant advantages—particularly deliverability and the ability to finely target. These marketing executives believe that print is more personal than other media and that customers prefer print.
One of the central questions of the study was the degree to which marketers will return to printed direct marketing when the economy recovers. And by the conclusion of the study in late 2010, direct mail volume had increased; the consultants believe this trend will continue.
Marketers value printed direct marketing as an effective acquisition channel. According to the study, “Most marketers, service providers, and observers note that the jury is still out on online direct marketing since there is no reliable data on how well the channel is performing.” In fact, the research team heard stories of companies that had disastrous results when they nearly abandoned print altogether.
Despite favorable opinions about print in direct marketing, the research concludes however, that online marketing and data analytics tools will continue to grow in sophistication to make online channels successful with demonstrable results. As a result print (believed to be more costly) will continue to lose volume to alternative media. There are, however, bright spots in various vertical markets and for several key print direct marketing applications including direct mail.