Standard Mail volume is dependent upon how an advertiser chooses to spend his marketing dollar. The cost of paper, printing and postage, therefore, play heavily into whether advertisers choose direct mail vs. other forms of advertising. Postage alone can easily comprise 30% of a direct-mail advertising campaign.
Though the basic rate structure of Standard letters remained unchanged, the most recent rate case did make several key adjustments to Standard Mail including:
• detached address labels now carry a 15-cent surcharge; and,
• drop shipment discounts were increased slightly.
Ultimately, the postal reform pro-visions will hit catalogs the hardest of all printed products, primarily due to the rates now being based on mail shape rather than weight. Some lighter weight catalogs will incur a higher increase than heavier catalogs due to these changes. Plus, catalogs that do not conform to the dimen-sions of USPS flats processing equip-ment will have to be modified.
Despite being the hardest hit, INTERQUEST concludes that even catalog mailers will be able to adjust to the rate increases. Carrier route pre-sorting and destination entry will help lessen the impact of the new rates. In addition, other strate-gies, such as decreasing page count, eliminating mailings and raising shipping charges for catalog items may help offset the rate hikes. Some mailers may change the size and shape of their catalogs to enable co-mailing with others.
Many printers and mailers will agree that the worst aspect of past rate increases was their unpredictability and the lengthy process. The new legislation pro-vides relief in that aspect while at the same time provides some stability for the USPS. Mailers will obviously make format changes to afford them the best available rates for getting their product into the mailstream to postal patrons, and printers will be there to help their customers adapt. NPES member suppliers are well advised to stay abreast of postal changes and to take the lead in providing systems, products and services to ease the burden for printers and mailers as they make the transition.