Rise in 'junk mail' expected by Royal Mail

Royal Mail expects a rise in direct marketing - so-called “junk mail” - as it looks to increase its share of the advertising market to boost profits.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail expects a rise in marketing mail.

It was revealed yesterday (13 November) that half of all letters delivered by Royal Mail are marketing mail.

The increase follows the removal of a cap on volumes last year, which means postal workers are no longer restricted to delivering a maximum of three unaddressed items to each household each week. LINK

The number of unaddressed letters sent during the six months to the end of September increased to 1.6bn, up from 1.54bn in the same period last year.

The volume of traditional letters sent during the period declined 9 per cent and Royal Mail CEO Moya Greene says UK households should expect more marketing letters as the firm looks to offset the decline.

Royal Mail earned £1.1bn from marketing mailings last year.

Royal Mail launched MarketReach, its direct marketing business, in July and hopes to grow it to increase its share of the £16bn UK advertising market. Royal Mail claims that MarketReach offers £3 return on every £1 invested in mail campaigns.

The Direct Marketing Association expects companies to invest £2.43bn this year.

Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA, says: “We see Royal Mail’s belief in advertising mail is a great growth opportunity for the industry. However, the industry must continue to improve its creative approach and use of data to ensure that direct mail remains relevant and of interest to consumers. Poor consumer insight leads to junk mail, which is bad for business. Cutting out unnecessary direct mail marketing will help to not only change consumer perceptions but also improve companies’ return on investment.”

Royal Mail posted a rise in operating profit to £144m in the six months to September 23, up from £12m in the same period a year ago. Revenue increased to £4.35bn, up from £4.21bn a year ago.

The performance has fuelled long-term speculation that Royal Mail is headed for privatisation.

The story has dominated the front page of today’s Daily Mail (14 November), with the paper warning of an “avalanche” of junk mail.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Will only be a matter of time before they will be restricted in delivering junk mail. It's bad for the economy and bad for the planet, and annoys the customers!
    PO is in a downward spiral relying on junk mail - a very bad business move.

    Be a lot better to concentrate on the growing market for internet deliveries - just as other couriers are.

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  • So-called 'junk mail'? I'm sure Royal Mail will be highly delighted it sponsors your website only for you to call it that!

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  • To put all this into perspective less than half the population (46%) currently receive cold addressed mail. While the volume each individual receives may have gone up it does show that there is at least some targeting going on. By comparison, cold email has reached 42% and the trend is rising. (Figures from The British Population Survey, n= 57,751 Individual face to face interviews)
    The problem, besides being one of perception, seems to be that marketers tend to target the individual and not the channel resulting in both waste and annoyance. It is possible to develop channel segmentation and scoring models which take into account channel preference, it’s not that hard.
    The other issue is the use of the edited Electoral Roll. Dr Tim Drye did a paper a little while ago which showed that people who opt out of making their details available via the Electoral Roll actually get more ‘junk mail’ to the tune of 108,000,000 items per year (see www.thebps.co.uk/news )

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  • Unless people are stupider than I give them credit for, the junk doesn't take long to deal with.
    If it is not addressed, it goes directly into the recycling.
    If it is addressed anything to identify someone in the household is removed for shredding, the rest is in the recycling.
    Real post is then filleted to find the page that matters and the rest goes in the recycling.

    At the end of the day less than 10% of that which arrives by post gets more than a cursory glance before it is in the recycling.

    Why? Because it is not for my benefit, it is for the benefit of the person sending it.

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  • Come on guys .....why cant we have a system of seasonal preference ....I would like all my junk mail (and I get lots! oh to be one of the 54%) to be delivered between October and April .....outside those months I dont tend to light the wood burning stove.

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