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Nielsen Study Proves the Impact and Attraction of the Printed Envelope

April 20, 2012
HAMBURG, GERMANY—April 20, 2012—Postal recipients want the envelope. While the battle rages for customers in mail boxes and email inboxes, the Nielsen information and media company confirms the unique advertising effects of an envelope...even in this digital era.

Today, recipients of advertising expect on the one hand the value of a real envelope and on the other hand the personal touch of an email. The demands placed by advertisers on the envelope have increased through the efficiency benefits which electronic communication offers: speed is of great importance.

Digitalization has led to a flood of advertising. Customers' attention is gold currency these days. Direct, goal-orientated and individualized offers raise the chances for advertisers to be noticed. However, which forms of direct address are preferred by customers and optimize the success of advertisements?

To find out, RAPP Germany commissioned Nielsen to conduct a study of around 1,800 participants in Germany and the United States. The effects of five different direct mailing techniques, along the entire purchase decision process, were tested. The off-line versions included standard envelope, printed envelope, self-mailer and wrapper, while the online medium was email.

The printed envelope: the medium for success.

The study shows that the printed envelope stood up during the whole purchase decision process. The envelope is most effective in drawing attention and generates the highest number of readers compared with the standard envelope, the self-mailer, the wrapper and the email.

Printed envelopes were opened and their contents read by 84.5 percent of recipients, which made them the most opened advertising (vs. standard envelopes—75.6 percent, self-mailer—71.4 percent and wrapper—71.2 percent). While all postal mailing versions lead to readers informing themselves more about the product to a similar extent, the printed envelope outshone the competition in one specific way: no other mailing version was valued as highly.

RAPP chart envelope
[+] click to enlarge
Printed envelopes influence the purchase decision the most.

The significance attached to a printed envelope generates a unique activation potential. The printed envelope encourages a customer to further recommend an offer to friends and family twice as much when compared with emails (see chart). This is a decisive advantage for sales today, because studies show that such recommendations are the most important factors of influence when people make a purchase decision.
Young recipients prefer envelopes – as long as they are personalized.

Interestingly, it is the older target segment (55–65 years) and not younger target groups (16–34 years) that value emails in a positive manner. Younger target groups are aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of electronic communication. While 63.2 percent of 16–34 year olds see emails disappear in the flood of advertisements they receive, an individually addressed printed envelope is valued very highly. Younger target groups want the best of both worlds: a real envelope and the flexibility of individualized emails.


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