Direct Mail Outlook -- Getting Personal
By Erik Cagle
Good news! In October, Postmaster General John E. Potter told the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference attendees that, because of its reform efforts that enabled the USPS to remove $2.9 billion out of its bottom line in fiscal 2002, there would be no rate hikes until "well into 2004."
The bad news, of course, is that the general economy and volume reductions in mailings made 2002 a challenging campaign for those companies that provide direct mail solutions from the production end. Thus, in noting that there will be no rate hike in 2003 is akin to pointing out, "At least the tornado didn't destroy our Dodge."
|Top 10 -- Direct Mail Printers|
|6||Wallace Computer Services
St. Louis Park, MN
|8||The Instant Web Cos.
|9||The Lehigh Press
|Sales figures are based on above printers'
self-reported total and market segment breakdowns.
But, at this point, any positive news is better than the alternative.
The softness in the general economy had a direct impact on both the volume and the complexity of many programs, according to John Paloian, COO at Quebecor World North America. "A significant number of mailers are experiencing, at best, flat volumes on a year-over-year basis, combined with a transition to the use of simpler, less complicated in-line packages," he says. "At the same time, there is an increased use of versioning with smaller name counts as mailers attempt to better target their lists."
On the product front, Quebecor World saw solid performances from self-mailers and simple, in-line formats, while costly, complex pieces were less favored. The financial services and credit card company markets mailed in large volume, according to Paloian, while telecommunications and continuity programs experienced significant volume reductions.