Direct Mail–A Moving Target


Total direct marketing sales in the United States will clear the $2 trillion mark in five years, with nearly $765 billion estimated for business-to-business sales in the year 2000, according to findings made by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Thus, on the whole, the industry appears to be in good shape.

That statement is not entirely accurate, though. Even with a double-digit compound annual growth rate, there are key issues that will influence the market, particularly business-to-business considerations for those who profit from the manufacture of direct mail.

Top 10 Direct Mail Printers
  Company Segment
Total Sales
1 Quebecor World*
$554.00 $6,160.00
2 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$254.00 $1,340.00
3 R.R. Donnelley & Sons
$250.00 $5,000.00
4 Mail-Well
Englewood, CO
$156.00 $1,950.00
5 Wallace Computer Services
Lisle, IL
$137.00 $1,530.00
6 GTC Transcontinental Group
$77.00 $866.00
7 The Instant Web Companies
Chanhassen, MN
$73.00 $92.00
8 Japs-Olson
St. Louis Park, MN
$68.00 $114.00
9 The Lehigh Press
Pennsauken, NJ
$62.00 $130.00(E)
10 Clondalkin Group
$59.00 $599.00
*Combined proforma data as of 12/31/98

Ray Frick, CEO and president of The Lehigh Press, Pennsauken, NJ, has a unique vantage point on the subject. Frick constructed direct mail dynasties for such printing industry giants as Banta and Quebecor, and is a frequent speaker on subjects relative to commercial printing. Fresh from delivering the keynote address, “Reflections on Our Changing Industry at the Dawn of the New Millennium,” at the R&E Council’s fall 1999 meeting, Frick outlined a number of specific challenges facing printers of direct mail:

Technology and the impact of e-commerce. He feels that many e-commerce solutions will be complementary to aspects of commercial printing, while others will mean replacement. Frick notes that the growth rate in the direct mail sector is still strong in relation to the printing industry overall, but is “more moderate and less explosive” than the growth rates in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Public policy. One challenge deals with the issue of privacy and privacy legislation, which Frick feels is being addressed successfully overall by the DMA.

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