Direct Marketing Justifies Its Existence

Tucked into an otherwise mundane WP column about Junk Mail Awareness Week (October 1st, mark your calendars!) are some fabulous quotes from the Direct Marketing Association on how junk mail saves America. (Thanks to Ian!)

    “The Direct Marketing Association says that far from harming the environment, catalogues help it, by reducing the number of cars headed to shopping malls….Then there’s the argument that junk mail keeps the Postal Service afloat.

    “We certainly wouldn’t want to see a drastic and expensive and unnecessary government program created that would probably do more harm than good,” said the association’s Pat Kachura.”

Sounds like a candidate for a long takeoff on a short runway.


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  1. Falconfire says:

    “Then there’s the argument that junk mail keeps the Postal Service afloat.”

    Which of course would only be true if infact Direct Mail Marketers paid for much that they mail, which they dont, the US Postal Service cuts them a break.

    The truth is, first class mail, is still most of the revenue the postal serivce makes. Infact you could also argue that its thanks to direct mail that the post office has to spend so much money for shipping and prossesing. While yes there would be less need for people and equipment if you where to ban direct mail marketing, at the same time you would NEED less equipment, especially since more than 70% of the mail the post office has to sort IS junk mail.

  2. Demingite says:

    I buy the argument about catalogues saving trips to the mall when the consumer actually, explicitly, overtly requests the catalogue.

    But sending out millions of catalogues unsoliticedly and indiscriminately to people who don’t want or use them is pollution and waste. Some of mailings have maybe a 2% hit rate, while BURDENING the remaining 98% of us. Depending on the mailing, that really can be millions and millions of people.

    And remember the motto “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” The first and best choice is REDUCE. (Don’t cut down the tree in the first place.)

    Typically those who send out mass marketing have a business model built on manipulation — cf. full-color coupon flyers stuck into the newspaper each and every Sunday, trying to intice the consumer via a temporary loss leader. Compare to Trader Joe’s: no coupons, no sales, a monthly informational flyer inexpensively printed and completely optional, and much lower prices and much higher quality. (Junk mail costs significant money in printing, postage, and in paying marketing staff for their time in creating the campaigns and mailings. These costs are passed onto consumers, i.e. with higher prices.) Trader Joe’s also has happier employees, cleaner stores, and loyal customers. All without any printed junk in the mail or in the newspaper.

    Junk mail just doesn’t have to be. There are better ways to build and maintain businesses, and connect to customers.

  3. Demingite says:

    I forgot to mention another fact about Trader Joe’s: They are very successful as a business.

  4. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    I have a new Consumerist gripe: The nearest Trader Joe’s is almost a hundred miles from me. Wish they did mail-order–I’d pay extra to be able to sample some of their dry goods without making a special trip.

    BTW, Trader Joe’s publishes their current flyer on their website, so you can view it there instead of on paper.

  5. Brianron says:

    Catalogs help the environment because they decrease the number of car trips to the store?

    These people are precious. If you told them murder was bad, they would tell you that it actually was good for the environment because that is one less person using a car.

    Give me a break.

  6. Triteon says:

    It’ll cost you a buck to get off mailing lists, but it’s worth it; here’s the link to the Comsumer info section of the Direct Mareting Association’s website:

  7. gvonk says:

    Sounds like a candidate for a long takeoff on a short runway.

    Ooh, I laughed just as hard as I winced at that one. Too soon! But too funny!