The transformation of print-based direct marketing

Although pioneered more than a century ago, direct mail remains a trusted marketing strategy. Printed direct mail is being transformed in response to online and mobile media and changing consumer habits. An infographic on the current state and future viability of direct mail and catalogues.

Direct marketing is a form of advertising that allows businesses and nonprofits to communicate directly with customers and prospects via a range of media, including display ads, direct mail letters, fliers, catalogues, and email, online,
and mobile platforms.

However, direct mail and catalogues suffered through a perfect storm during and immediately after the recession of 2009. The sharp downturn in the global economy shrank marketing budgets as consumers closed their wallets and businesses struggled to stay afloat. At the same time maturing online and mobile channels began attracting a growing portion of advertising revenue by offering more economical alternatives to print-based marketing.

To some observers, print-based direct marketing was in crisis and headed towards irrelevancy. Since then the dust of the recession has largely settled and world economies are slowly recovering. Marketers are beginning to understand the value and effectiveness of multichannel advertising, and direct mail and catalogue volume has stabilised and grown.

By most reckoning, however, it will never be “business as usual.” Volumes will likely never return to pre-recession levels. While marketers and consumers alike continue to value direct mail and catalogues, they are increasingly looking for more relevance and personalised content. That is why Ricoh commissioned Interquest to gain insights into the current state and future viability of direct mail and catalogues in North America and Europe.



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  • 19. November 2014 23:11

    I hadn’t thought of how Direct Mail Marketing had suffered during the economic turn in 2008-09. And I was suprised in your graphics that digital marketing makes up such a small percentage of the ad spends in the U.S. I would expect it to be much higher! Interesting read, thanks for sharing.

  • 10. März 2015 18:54

    I hate to see print based marketers suffer during this ever evolving age of technology. My company offers both digital and traditional marketing tactics but clearly digital saves money, time, materials. But there are many benefits of marketing in print. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • 3. August 2015 16:46

    It’s nice to see a good amount of information resumed and well presented.

    That said, I think print direct marketing continues to be essential to local businesses, product shops or service providers.
    It’s maybe the fastest way to introduce yourself to the community and with the DIY trend, business owners can now choose and template and adapt it to their business with no major hassle and low budgets.

    That, and with some basic strategies, this print items can be a very useful source of information about the city, basic example: Flyers with different “coupon” colors are distributed at different areas. After that, you just have to log which area gives you more customers.

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