Direct Mail–Enough Elbow Room, Growth?

BY ERIK CAGLE

The world of direct mail is an exclusive one in terms of overall printing sales figures.

According to the annual ranking of the 500 largest companies done by Printing Impressions, the top two North American direct mail printers—Quebecor Printing, headquartered in Montreal, and the Banta Corp. of Menasha, WI—topped $600 million in combined sales. The third and fourth largest companies on the top 10 list—Wallace Computer Services of Lisle, IL, and World Color Press, Greenwich, CT—combined for roughly half of that figure.

Top 10 Direct Mail Printers
  Company Segment
Sales
(millions)
Total Sales
(millions)
1 Quebecor Printing
Montreal
$382.80 $3,480.00
2 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$228.00 $1,200.00
3 Wallace Computer Services
Lisle, IL
$176.80 $1,360.00
4 World Color Press
Greenwich, CT
$140.00 $2,000.00
5 The Instant Web Companies
Chanhassen, MN
$89.60 $112.00
6 Japs-Olson
St. Louis Park, MN
$66.00(E) $110.00(E)
7 Clondalkin Group
Philadelphia
$60.20 $602.00
8 Lehigh Press
Cherry Hill, NJ
$59.76 $124.50
9 GBF Graphics
Skokie, IL
$53.76 $82.70
10 GTC Transcontinental Group
Montreal
$50.45 $720.72

Is there room for growth in direct mail printing beyond the elite of the industry, given that the number of jobs is shrinking while new companies compete for the printing dollar? The responses are somewhat mixed.

Kevin McNamara, vice president of marketing for Banta Direct Marketing Group in Chicago, notes market growth for segments such as advertising agencies, direct mail agencies, retailers and financial services companies.

“Those companies enjoyed productive growth in both the promotional marketing materials and marketing communications materials areas, as well as the direct mailer,” McNamara says. “The majority of that growth came out of the direct mail portion of those businesses and, in particular, the direct mail programs—packages that required some level of personalization.”

McNamara sees those segments as having significant growth potential in 1999, with the market at large (“depending on whose numbers you look at,” he adds) growing in the 6 percent to 7 percent range. He feels Banta will benefit from that strong growth rate.

As the print customer’s fortunes go, needless to say, so does that of the printer.

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