It’s only in the last few decades that cheap and easy alternatives to the post have proliferated, radically reshaping the way in which we correspond. But postal services are here to stay. We still need packages delivered, for one thing, and we’re also developing a greater appreciation for the act of sending and receiving physical mail.
“The Future of Correspondence” assesses the role of mail in the digital age, delving into the rise of “slow communication” and the fusion of digital and physical. It examines what’s driving these developments, the ways in which they’re manifesting and what they mean for marketers. The report also spotlights eight innovative direct mail campaigns and takes a look at how email is evolving, the advent of delivery lockers and new approaches to stamps and addresses.
This report is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWTIntelligence throughout the year. For this report, JWTIntelligence interviewed relevant influencers and experts, and surveyed 1,200 adults aged 18-plus in the U.S. and the U.K. from Feb. 1-4, 2013, using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool.
Download the full report at www.jwtintelligence.com
3 GENERATION GO WHAT WE’LL
COVER Executive Summary........................................................................................................ 3 Methodology ................................................................................................................ 4 Slow Communication....................................................................................................... 5 The Fusion of Digital and Physical….................................................................................... 21 Case Studies: Eight Innovative Direct Mail Campaigns............................................................. 43 Things to Watch: Delivery Lockers, Rethinking Email and Simplifying Addresses and Stamps............ 52 Appendix.................................................................................................................... 62 • More About Our Experts/Influencers................................................................................. 63 • Additional Charts........................................................................................................ 65
3 GENERATION GO EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
For more than two centuries, letters were the primary way people could communicate over long distances. The telegram and the telephone made communication more instantaneous, but it’s only in the last few decades that multiple cheap and easy options have proliferated: faxes, then emails, then text messages and tweets, among other things. These tools have radically reshaped the way people stay in contact with each other and with businesses. But postal services are here to stay. We still need packages delivered, for one thing, and the rise of e-commerce means more and more of them. We’re also seeing an uptick in stationery sales in this digital age. Indeed, as a countertrend to today’s proliferation of thoughtless tweets, texts, status updates and emails, people are coming to appreciate slower, more mindful communications—giving new significance to the act of sending and receiving physical mail. While slower communication is growing in appeal, for the most part today’s consumers are seeking the best of both worlds: the more sensory satisfactions of the physical realm along with the ease, interactivity and anywhere-access of the digital sphere. Consumers are coming to expect a seamless experience and array of options across the digital-to-physical spectrum. Marketers and postal services have been catering to this in various ways, including adding digital components to physical mail, digitizing real-world mail and translating digital content into physical deliveries. This report examines the rise of Slow Communication and the Fusion of Digital and Physical, examining what’s driving these trends and the ways in which they’re manifesting, as well as what they mean for marketers. We also spotlight eight innovative direct mail campaigns and take a look at how email is evolving, the advent of delivery lockers, and new approaches to stamps and addresses. The bottom line for brands: There are tremendous opportunities to creatively leverage the power of mail.
METHODOLOGY All our trend reports
are the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWTIntelligence throughout the year. Specifically for this report, we conducted a quantitative survey in the U.S. and the U.K. using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, from Feb. 1-4, 2013. We surveyed 800 Americans and 400 Britons aged 18-plus. In addition, we interviewed three relevant experts and influencers. *See Appendix to learn more about these experts and influencers. EVAN BAEHR, co-founder, Outbox ALEXA HIRSCHFIELD, co-founder, Paperless post TOM ALLASON, founder and CEO, Shutl
Image credit: Alexander Savin SLOW
COMMUNICATION One of our 100 Things to Watch in 2010 continues to gain adherents. As a countertrend to today’s proliferation of thoughtless tweets, texts, status updates and emails, consumers are coming to appreciate slower, more mindful communications. This is giving new significance to the act of sending and receiving physical mail.
As part of our survey,
we asked respondents to assign personality traits to various communication tools. Overall, they considered physical letters to be significantly more friendly, authentic and kind than electronic messages. MANIFESTATIONS: Physical mail seen as warmer, more authentic SLOW COMMUNICATION
MANIFESTATIONS: Stationery’s revival SLOW COMMUNICATION
Stationery’s revival: Paper is experiencing a revival, with digital natives embracing the notion of penning notes sent through the mail. Stationery was on our list of 100 Things to Watch in 2012, and sales remain robust: The global stationery and card market is expected to reach $111.8 billion by 2016, a 25% increase since 2011, according to an August 2012 report from MarketLine. Louis Vuitton recently launched a stationery line, showcased in a new Cabinet d’Ecriture in one of its Paris boutiques. Image credit: Louis Vuitton
MANIFESTATIONS: Catalogs’ endurance SLOW COMMUNICATION
Catalogs’ endurance: “Printed catalogs would seem to be a relic of the past,” The Columbus Dispatch noted last year. But, as the paper reported, “there is more life left in those glossy pages than you might think. ... Printed catalogs remain a key method for luring customers—maybe more important than ever.” U.S. companies spent $10.4 billion on direct mail catalogs in 2011, up from $9.9 billion the year before, according to the Direct Marketing Association. And nearly 90 million Americans bought an item from a catalog in 2011. The catalog continues to open new doors and opportunity for us. ... We see a strong future for the catalog, with this being one of many ways that we communicate with our customer.” —JIM WRIGHT, SVP of marketing, Express, “Despite the prevalence of digital media, catalogs remain a huge part of business,” The Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 5, 2012
MANIFESTATIONS: Books celebrating old-fashioned letter
writing SLOW COMMUNICATION Books celebrating old-fashioned letter writing: Three books released in the last year alone celebrate slow communication: Philip Hensher’s The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, John O’Connell’s For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication and Ian Sansom’s Paper: An Elegy. There are also blogs dedicated to postal mail. Viva Snail Mail!, for instance, is about “the art and craft of paper correspondence.” Image credits: Amazon; Amazon
MANIFESTATIONS: Letter-writing programs SLOW COMMUNICATION
Letter-writing programs: A string of initiatives from lovers of postal mail is designed to get more people motivated to write and send letters. Image credits: Marion Deuchars; Mary Robinette Kowal The Hand Written Letter Project: In 2007, London-based graphic designer Craig Oldham invited designers and other creative thinkers to send him letters on their own stationery. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Month of Letters Challenge: In January 2012, this science fiction writer encouraged her fans to send something through the post every day during the month of February (minus Sundays and a national holiday) and to respond to any letters received. Almost 800 people officially signed up to participate.
MANIFESTATIONS: Social networks for post
SLOW COMMUNICATION Social networks for post: Various social networks connect people looking to communicate via the post. Image credits: League of Extraordinary Penpals; Real League of Extraordinary Penpals: Started in January by two bloggers, the League of Extraordinary Penpals is a club that connects pen pals looking to converse via letters. Real: “The word post has been stolen ... it’s our aim to take it back,” says real-world social network Real. Organized by the U.K.’s Royal Mail, Real takes the idea of status updates, posts and pictures, and makes them tangible. Users apply for one of 25 small lockers or “plots” in London, then send items to their plot by mail.
MANIFESTATIONS: Mail subscription services SLOW
COMMUNICATION Mail subscription services: A few services allow subscribers to receive artistic postcards or handwritten letters through the mail. Image credits: Abe’s Penny; The Rumpus Abe’s Penny Letters in the Mail
3 GENERATION GO“I want what
I want when I want it,” or so goes the mantra of the modern consumer. Reach for a smartphone and you can shoot off an email, arrange an order from Amazon and download a movie, all in minutes. Consumers have come to expect instant gratification, and that expectation is only getting more pronounced. But at the same time, people will start to value things that delay or extend gratification and take more time and effort. Unwrap the process: With today’s consumers fascinated by the story behind products and services they use, “unwrap the process” and help customers understand how mailed items get to their destination. In December 2011, for instance, Delta Air Lines created a video that tracked a bag’s journey from the counter to the carousel. Embrace delayed gratification: In a hyper-connected, real-time world, delayed gratification can have a certain appeal. By offering products over time or in stages, brands can build anticipation and engage consumers who are willing to excitedly wait for the next installment. Plus, when something arrives, recipients are more likely to pay attention. Serial fiction, for instance, has taken off, as have mail-based subscription services that deliver items on a regular schedule. WHAT IT MEANS SLOW COMMUNICATION
3 GENERATION GORemember that physical
mail can build emotional connections: Tangible, real-world mail has a unique emotional immediacy. Unlike emails, which are usually dashed off, letters tend to involve more thought and effort. Sending letters and cards—especially if they’re handwritten and use high-end stationery—is a way to make people feel important and special. As one interviewee explained to The Wall Street Journal, a letter “makes the person real and 3D in a way that they can’t be online.” Real-world communication can affect the brain in ways virtual media cannot, according to a 2009 neuroscience-based study by Millward Brown in the U.K. The findings, conducted for the Royal Mail, “strongly suggest that greater emotional processing is facilitating by the physical material than the virtual,” the agency said. The “‘real’ experience that physical media provides means it’s better at becoming part of memory”; the material also tends to become more internalized (that is, related to the individual’s own thoughts and feelings). As shown by MRI images of test subjects’ brains, “There is something special about the physical medium.” Given the impact of physical mail, both large and small businesses are incorporating handwritten letters into their marketing strategy. In 2011, Sprint officially amped up its output of notes to customers by implementing “Thank You Thursdays,” with all employees asked to write at least five thank you notes. Since then, Sprint employees have sent hundreds of thousands of notes. Meanwhile, small business can use personal notes to distinguish themselves from larger, more faceless rivals. For example, DuO, a clothing boutique in Texas, sends new customers handwritten notes with an invitation to attend special events or receive a discount. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) SLOW COMMUNICATION
3 GENERATION GO Even with
the iPad, [the tablet] has not created a suitable alternative experience to lead people to give up that wonderful medium that is paper, which is this incredible, malleable, richly visual, interactive piece of material that, in a lot of ways, the iPad can’t really compete with.” —EVAN BAEHR, co-founder, hybrid mail service Outbox Use real-world mail to create rich experiences: Simply thumbing through a catalog’s high-gloss pages is an experience that digital versions and online browsing can’t quite mimic. Plus, physical mail can further engage multiple senses with scents, textures, visual quirks, sounds, edible samples and so on. According to the Direct Marketing Association, a catalog sent through the mail is 30 times more effective at getting a consumer to buy something than an email. Brands can use physical catalogs to create aesthetic and engaging experiences that add an important complement to digital marketing. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) SLOW COMMUNICATION
3 GENERATION GOTurn the mail
piece into a product: For brands, direct mail need not mean simply disposable messages. With more consumers inclined to Objectify Objects, marketers can take advantage of mail by sending things that recipients will want to hold, touch and keep. Handwritten notes, high-end cards or special items may merit placement on a mantel. For example, BMW mailed out such an item last November: a unique “autograph” made from track marks created by its speedy M6 Coupe. (See case studies for more details.) In Singapore, DIY Living created cardboard packaging that could be easily transformed into furniture, an idea that presents interesting potential for postal boxes. Fun, interactive elements can also engage and delight a recipient for some time. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) SLOW COMMUNICATION Image credits: BMW; Fast Company
3 GENERATION GOHelp connect consumers
in slower ways: As more consumers start to appreciate the benefits of slow communication, brands can offer more alternatives to the frenzy of digital communication. Royal Mail’s Real social network, for instance, uses the mail to help a small group of users bring status updates into the physical world and encourages viewers to converge on a physical location. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) SLOW COMMUNICATION
Image credit: vignetfishnet THE FUSION
OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL People have come to expect the best of both worlds: the ease, interactivity and anywhere-access of the digital sphere along with the more sensory satisfactions of the physical realm. As the boundaries between these worlds continue to blur, marketers will need to find creative ways to mesh the two, mapping the benefits of one onto the other.
THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND
PHYSICAL 3 GENERATION GOThe allure of digital The allure of physical Worlds Colliding DRIVERS Image credits: Jason Howie; drjeeeol
MANIFESTATIONS: Mapping digital elements onto
physical Image credit: Sean Ludwig THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Physical mail is getting more digital in two key ways. QR codes and the like can lead recipients to multimedia elements. The U.S. Postal Service, aiming to drive more interactive mail, is even giving discounts to senders that integrate elements such as RFID chips, NFC smart tags and augmented reality; it’s also working with AR firm Aurasma on an app that would make mailers interactive. Meanwhile, postal services and private companies are digitizing real-world mail, allowing recipients to access it via digital devices.
MANIFESTATIONS: Interactive mail — QR
codes on bills Image credits: doxo; linn; Cablevision; steven2e0cnd THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL doxo: Hybrid mail provider doxo uses QR codes to help customers transition from paper statements to digital payments: When users scan the QR code on their statement, they’re directed to doxoPAY, where they can view and pay bills using a mobile phone. Cablevision: Cablevision is putting QR codes on envelopes; recipients who scan them are prompted to call in to learn more about new offerings.
MANIFESTATIONS: Interactive mail — Monarch
Airlines Image credit: Monarch Airlines THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Monarch Airlines: A good example of adding digital elements to direct mail comes from this British airline, which targeted snow-sports fans with a mailing that unfolded to reveal a large mountain range and inspiring shots of destinations that Monarch services. Recipients could use Blippar’s augmented reality app to bring the card to life, with 3D mountains, a recorded introduction from British Olympian Chemmy Alcott and a series of videos hidden around the mountainscape. The app allowed people to share photos and information via their social networks.
MANIFESTATIONS: Interactive mail — Postagram
Image credit: Postagram THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Postagram: To facilitate sharing, each postcard mailed via this app—which allows users to send physical cards from their mobile device— includes a QR code. When it’s scanned by the recipient, the app notifies the sender that the card was received, offers to download a digital copy of the photo, enables sharing via Twitter, and provides the option to reply with a Postagram. The app will also automatically add the sender’s mailing address to the recipient’s contact list.
MANIFESTATIONS: Digitizing physical mail —
Outbox Image credit: Outbox THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Outbox: This startup, which has negotiated a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, securely intercepts and digitizes mail, allowing subscribers to read, tag and permanently store messages on a digital device. The service can also scan checks, enabling users to make deposits directly from their Outbox account. Outbox can recycle the mail or send it along to a user’s mailing address.
MANIFESTATIONS: Digitizing physical mail —
postal services Image credits: Itella Corp.; Swiss Post Box THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL NetPosti: From Finland’s Itella Corp. (the country’s postal unit), this service allows users to receive digital copies of important mail such as bills, pay slips and lab results one or two days earlier than physical mail would arrive. They can access this mail via the cloud, where it is archived for seven years free of charge. Swiss Post Box: This service receives users’ letters and emails a scan of the sealed envelope; users can request to have the letter opened and the contents scanned (which they receive the next day), or it can be recycled, shredded or sent to a mailing address. The cost varies based on the volume of letters.
MANIFESTATIONS: Mapping physical elements onto
digital Image credit: Amazon THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL A variety of services translate digital content into physical deliveries. For instance, Polish Post’s hybrid mail service, mostly targeted at businesses, simplifies direct mailing by printing clients’ electronic files and delivering the output within a guaranteed time frame. More whimsically, volunteers for the project Snail Mail My Email will write out emails that people submit, then post them as letters (a compilation of these was recently published). Since mid-2011, more than 400 volunteers have collectively sent almost 14,000 letters.
MANIFESTATIONS: Digital-into-physical cards Image credits:
Paperless Post; Postcard on the Run THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL When the Web offers so much more efficiency in terms of time and cost than the physical equivalent, [consumers] are choosing paper for just the things paper has that the Web doesn’t have when those things are important—archival quality, the ability to display it somewhere.” —ALEXA HIRSCHFELD, co-founder, Paperless Post
MANIFESTATIONS: Brand initiatives Image credits:
eHarmony; Heinz THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL eHarmony Australia, “Calligraphy Cupids”: The online dating service’s “Calligraphy Cupids” created and sent handwritten love letters for those who “liked” its Facebook page and filled in the relevant details. Heinz, “‘Get Well’ Soup”: Heinz enabled consumers to send a personalized can of soup to sick friends via Facebook. For roughly $3, senders (who had to “like” Heinz soup) could create a custom “get well” message to be printed on the can.
MANIFESTATIONS: Brand initiatives (cont’d) Image
credits: Kleenex; Greenberry THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Kleenex, “feel good”: In a Kleenex initiative carried out in Israel, the company selected 50 Facebook members who had posted updates about getting sick, acquired their addresses from friends and surprised them with hand-delivered care packages. PostNL, “from the heart”: In the Netherlands, the postal service created a website that used a smart language filter to showcase emotions and feelings shared over Twitter in real time. Each day, the person with the most responses to his/her tweet received a postbag full of these responses handwritten on cards.
MANIFESTATIONS: Speedier delivery Image credits:
USPS; FedEx THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Speedier delivery: While e-commerce may rate high on convenience, it fails on speed. Today’s demanding digital consumer has come to expect the ease of ordering online but wants instant gratification as well. So companies are seeking ways to keep shrinking the delivery window for online orders.
MANIFESTATIONS: Speedier delivery — e-commerce
providers Image credits: Google; Amazon; Walmart THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Google Shopping Express: Google is pushing into the space, quietly launching a private same-day service, Google Shopping Express, in San Francisco this March; it’s now in beta and looking to partner with large retailers. Amazon: Amazon is expanding its same-day delivery service across the U.S., opening new distribution centers and increasing efficiency at existing sites. (A new grocery service, AmazonFresh, has a 10 a.m. cutoff for same-day delivery.) Walmart.com: Walmart shoppers also have a same-day delivery option—for a $10 fee, with no minimum purchase—if they’re ordering certain popular items.
MANIFESTATIONS: Speedier delivery — e-commerce
providers (cont’d) Image credits: eBay; Jingdong; Flipkart THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL eBay Now: eBay Now allows shoppers to receive products from local merchants within hours, thanks to a network of couriers (or “valets”). The app pushes each order to the valet closest to the vendor in question. Users can track the delivery’s progress and phone the valet directly. Jingdong: In China, e-commerce giant Jingdong now offers three-hour delivery service in six major cities and same-day service in 25-plus cities. Flipkart: Customers of India’s dominant e-commerce brand, Flipkart, which can deliver some items in 24 hours at no extra cost, can pay the courier with cash—a key aim is to capture the significant number of shoppers without credit cards.
MANIFESTATIONS: Speedier delivery — startups
Image credits: Shutl; Postmates; Instacart THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Shutl: U.K.-based Shutl promises prompt delivery—the fastest on record is 15 minutes. Customers can also have items delivered within a specified one- hour window. The company has partnered with retailers Argos, Maplin Electronics and Laithwaites Wine. It’s now expanding to North America, starting with Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Postmates: U.S.-based Postmates offers a similar service, as well as couriers who make in-store purchases and deliver them. Instacart: Also in the U.S., Instacart is focused on grocery delivery. Available in select markets, it works with Safeway and Trader Joe’s, sending couriers to pick up and deliver orders. Customers pay around $4 for delivery within three hours or get a $99 subscription.
3 GENERATION GOOur lifestyles now
span a digital-to-physical spectrum, with consumers preferring to stick with paper for some behaviors while entrenched in digital for others. As they shift from one realm to the next and back again, they are coming to expect a seamless experience and an array of options across the spectrum. Increasingly, brands will need to find creative ways to incorporate the benefits of digital into physical mail and vice versa. Put the consumer in control: By providing customers a way to exercise quality control over their mail, brands can build trust, as well as a greater willingness to read and open any materials received. Digital services like Outbox and Swiss Post Box empower consumers by letting them decide which pieces of mail are delivered and in what format. And Canada Post helps people opt out of anonymous mail: Customers who place a note on their mailbox receive only select unaddressed materials, such as community newspapers and official documents. With consumers accustomed to tracking deliveries in real time (as enabled by FedEx and UPS), brands can also help customers keep tabs on their post. Postagram, for instance, can send notifications when a user’s postcard is dispatched, when it reaches various post offices along the way and when the recipient scans its QR code. Speedy delivery services like eBay Now and Shutl allow users to track their courier in real time, from collection to delivery. The U.K.’s Royal Mail, which considers e-commerce returns an increasingly lucrative market, is planning to launch Packetpost Returns with Tracking, a service that helps online retailers and consumers track the progress of packages as they’re sent back. WHAT IT MEANS THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL
3 GENERATION GOGo omnichannel: Consumers
no longer differentiate between channels; they want to be able to access brands by whatever’s the easiest or most appealing means at the time. Channel-only marketing is at odds with this behavior. “If you get an email and it says ‘Online only, 50% off,’ the consumer is thinking, ‘Why couldn’t I just print this and go to the store?” Consumers might start in one channel and wind up in another,” notes Jill Puleri, VP and global retail leader for IBM Global Business Services. Marketers must connect the channels so consumers can hop from digital (and its various platforms) to physical, however and whenever they want. Making real-world mail interactive with QR codes, augmented reality and the like is one way to do this, and also to engage consumers with a more dynamic experience. Postal brands can make mail easily available on multiple platforms, as companies such as Outbox and national postal services like Swiss Post are doing. While some, such as the U.S. Postal Service, may be legally restricted from opening mail, they can partner with third parties to provide this offering. Brands can also use hybrid mail services like Outbox and Earth Class Mail to better target physical mailings. For instance, marketers looking to mail samples could first send out email via a service like Outbox that invites users to opt in to the (physical) marketing mail that’s relevant to them. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL
Simplify the sending process: Sending
mail can be a discouraging hassle, whether it’s small businesses printing and distributing direct marketing or consumers buying stamps and getting to the post office. Brands can simplify the process. The Royal Mail’s MarketReach agency, for instance, helps companies target consumers and then creates and sends bespoke mailings. For consumers, brands can enable the sending of mail directly from a digital device (e.g., Postagram, Heinz’s “Get Well Soup” initiative and Apple’s Cards); offer digital stamps (such as those developed by Post Danmark), allowing physical mail to be sent on the fly; and circumvent the need for an address (e.g., Postagram’s Sincerely Magic feature). Another way to simplify is by developing a more robust online platform that allows people to reply to mail such as bills, forms and subscriptions. Manilla, doxo and Pitney Bowes’ Volly, for instance, offer a dashboard from which customers can review and respond to business-related mailings. Brands can also develop a way to automate the reply process. Cards, bills or invitations might include a QR code that directs users to a customized response that can be easily sent either digitally or physically. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Image credit: doxo
Show digital and physical media
aren’t so far apart: To some digital natives and others immersed in the virtual world, postal mail can feel antiquated and irrelevant. Giving social media output a physical form (converting physical mail into social media) can remind consumers that the two are connected and complementary. The Dutch postal service, for instance, highlighted this link in a campaign by handwriting various emotions and feelings shared over Twitter on physical cards that were then hand-delivered by a celebrity. Last November, the Gap partnered with Postagram, allowing people to send their Facebook photos as printed postcards to friends for free; the postcards included a personalized message, the Gap’s logo and a QR code. Postagram recently launched a similar promotion with Coppertone. Brands can also use social media data to provide personalized suggestions on when to send mail, reminding people when birthdays and other special occasions are coming up and helping them to send physical greetings—much more meaningful than a Facebook wall post. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL Image credit: Dutch Royal Mail
Ease environmental concerns: As more
people become environmentally conscious, brands must allay concerns about paper waste. For real-world mailings, marketers can emphasize the use of sustainable, recyclable paper. Conversely, brands can offer a robust digital offering that helps people cut down on physical mail. Explore faster delivery: The fact is, same-day or faster delivery isn’t a priority for many customers: A March report by The Boston Consulting Group found that interest among U.S. consumers is limited—but that affluent Millennials (who spend about two times more online than the average American) are significantly more likely to embrace such services. Plus, BCG believes they can have a “brand halo” effect: 38% of their survey respondents reported that a same-day delivery option would have a very positive influence on their perception of an online retailer. The report also estimated that in 2013, same-day delivery could generate between $425 million and $850 million in fee income in the U.S. While the logistics are complex, brands can partner with third-party services like Shutl as they expand their networks. WHAT IT MEANS (cont’d.) THE FUSION OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL
CASE STUDIES Direct mail has
a unique ability to inform, engage and motivate consumers. We scanned the globe for innovative efforts—from JWT and beyond—that creatively leverage the power of mail. Image credit: Kit Kat
CASE STUDIES Image credit: Seda
Seda Shampoo was looking to compete with more expensive, high-end products in Brazil’s competitive hair care market. The brand worked with JWT Brazil last year on a direct mail campaign that sought to grab the attention of trendsetters, build buzz on social media and change perceptions of the product. Seda created cards made of shampoo, transforming the liquid into a solid sheet; the final product looked like white paper but dissolved into usable shampoo when submerged in water. These were sent to 50 trendsetters, printed with an invitation to the Sónar festival, a well-known music event in São Paulo. The invitations were widely shared on social media, reaching an audience of more than 35,000 people within one week. Seda, “Shampoo Paper”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: Union
Bank of India In big cities like Mumbai, apartment renters tend not to stay in one place for long, relocating as rents rise. Looking to boost its mortgage business, Union Bank of India turned to direct mail, using the envelope as the creative vehicle. Mining its database for customers who had changed addresses frequently, the bank created envelopes that appeared to have been redirected from one old address to the next, following the same path the consumer had traveled in life. Inside was a simple message: “Don’t you think it’s time you had a home of your own?” These personalized mailers built familiarity between the bank and its customers, with nearly two- thirds of recipients responding to the mailer by calling or visiting a branch; the bank also saw a 38% increase in home loan inquiries. Union Bank of India, “Bouncing Mail”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: BMW
To promote its new M6 Coupe, BMW sent “autographs” made by the sporty vehicle to BMW owners and aficionados. To create these autographs, the chief driving instructor of BMW’s Performance Driving School raced an M6 equipped with ink dispensers over paper at high speeds. The paper was then cut up into cards, creating souvenirs of the car’s rubber- burning power—unique prints that recipients could display or hold onto as a keepsake. The initiative was covered by multiple press outlets, and the companion video has garnered nearly half a million views since it was posted in November. BMW, “The M Press”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: Telecom
In 2012, one of New Zealand’s biggest telecommunications companies wanted to show its appreciation to its most loyal customers. Telecom unfurled a giant blank canvas at its headquarters and asked employees, including the CEO, to cover it with messages of thanks. The completed canvas was converted into thousands of envelopes and letters, which were then mailed to customers around the country. Each letter directed people to a microsite, where recipients could see their letter being created and select a Telecom product as a gift. Within days, more than 20% of consumers visited the site to choose a gift. Telecom, “Big Thank You”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: Australia
Post To advertise a new service that provides an affordable way to send luggage from a hotel and avoid excess baggage fees at the airport, Australia Post sent hoteliers a suitcase-shaped mailing that included a real wooden hanger and paper pants. The whimsical package was designed to grab the attention of hotel operators looking to offer added value. “A new way to exceed your customer’s expectations” was how Australia Post billed the offer. Some 85 hotels agreed to use the service, almost 10% of those that received the offer. Australia Post, “Big Yellow Suitcase”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: Kit
Kat Inspired by the fact that pronunciation of “Kit Kat” closely mimics the Japanese “kitto katsu” (“surely win”), the campaign involved a first-of-its-kind partnership with Japan Post that enabled consumers to send wishes of good fortune to students during the country’s high-pressure exam season. The brand created special mailers that contained a Kit Kat bar and space to write a personal message, then took the unprecedented step of placing them in 22,000 post offices around the country. The campaign generated more than $11 million in free publicity as the promotion rolled out. What’s more, “Kit Kat Mail” has become a permanent fixture in Japan’s post offices, allowing consumers to send good tidings for any occasion. Kit Kat, “Kit Kat Mail”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: GGRP
By harking back to sound recording’s roots with a novel gift, Vancouver-based sound studio GGRP showcased itself in a fresh way that got people talking. The direct mail package, sent to creative directors across North America in 2009 and 2010, included a 45rpm vinyl record in a cardboard postal sleeve that was foldable into a small working turntable. The clever device could be manually rotated cardboard “speaker.” It came with a vinyl recording of a children’s story called “A Town That Found Its Sound.” The retro-primitive play on sound production and the wow factor—that the flimsy player actually worked—garnered a burst of coverage on tech blogs and a surge in visits to the company’s website. Direct response was over 90%. GGRP, “Cardboard Record Player”
CASE STUDIES Image credit: UNICEF
To convey the urgency and direness of the malnutrition problem in the Philippines, UNICEF settled on an approach notable for both its directness and poignancy. The international aid organization created a direct mail package for donors featuring a 6- centimer hole in the envelope, big enough to fit the arm of a malnourished child. A letter asked if donors could fit their arms through the hole, bringing home the devastating impact of malnutrition. The mailer also included a MUAC-tape (mid-upper arm circumference), a tool used by field workers to diagnose malnutrition in children, to give a sense of what aid workers do. The campaign resulted in income growth of 170% more than anticipated in the span of a year and at a lower cost per donor. UNICEF, “Fahad’s Arm”
The P.O. box is getting
a high-tech upgrade. User-operated delivery lockers aim to speed up deliveries and let people pick up packages, groceries and other items in nearby locations and at convenient times. Missed deliveries can be costly for businesses and aggravating for consumers. In the U.K., failed first- time, on-time deliveries cost the e-commerce sector an estimated £851 million, according to a 2012 report by IMRG. And two-fifths of British shoppers have stopped purchasing from a website after a problematic delivery, per the industry association Interactive Media Group. THINGS TO WATCH: DELIVERY LOCKERS Image credit: USPS Postal services USPS: The USPS pilot program, gopost, was unveiled in April 2012
THINGS TO WATCH: DELIVERY LOCKERS
Image credit: Amazon Amazon/Walmart Amazon: First introduced in late 2011, Amazon’s delivery lockers allow customers to pick up items in chain drugstores, 7- Eleven stores and Staples outlets. Introduced in Seattle, London and then New York City in late 2011, Amazon’s delivery lockers allow customers to pick up items from a nearby site rather than wait at home for deliveries. The service has expanded to more American cities, with lockers in 7-Eleven stores, chain drugstores and Staples outlets, among other locations. In the U.K., where the service is dubbed Collect+, Amazon lockers are similarly found in convenience stores, newsagents and gas stations. Walmart has announced plans to launch delivery lockers in U.S. stores this summer.
THINGS TO WATCH: DELIVERY LOCKERS
Image credits: BufferBox; Kinek BufferBox/Kinek BufferBox: Users in and around Toronto can have packages sent to a BufferBox in select locations across the region and access them via PIN code at no additional fee. Kinek: Kinek allows online shoppers to ship their packages to a number of locations around the U.S. and Canada.
THINGS TO WATCH: DELIVERY LOCKERS
Image credits: Cleveron; SmartPOST Cleveron and Itella grocery pickup Cleveron: In Estonia, Finland, Russia and Ukraine, users can pick up or drop off packages at Cleveron lockers. Credit card readers even allow customers to pay for goods as they collect them. Itella: In January Finnish postal service Itella Corp. expanded their SmartPOST program. A pilot click and collect scheme allows shoppers to ship groceries to their new refrigerated lockers.
THINGS TO WATCH: RETHINKING EMAIL
Rethinking email Email was once a great tool for communication, one that was less intrusive than the telephone and faster than the Postal Service. Now, even when it works as designed, it’s a virtual nightmare.” —JENNA WORTHAM, “When E-Mail Turns From Delight to Deluge,” The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2013 Despite the advances the Internet has made over the years—with the advent of mobile connectivity, social media interfaces, rich video, etc.—email has remained stubbornly 1.0. Messages arrive with unreliable speed (who hasn’t had an urgent email come in hours later?) at random intervals, all demanding attention at once. Aside from spam, a persistent issue, it’s a chore sorting the important messages from the rest. Inboxes, designed to mimic old filing systems, become overwhelming if ignored for a few days, or even hours. Email is increasingly identified as a productivity drain. It now chews up 28% of the week for high- skill knowledge workers, according to a July 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute. With the email world ripe for revolution, various parties are taking new approaches:
THINGS TO WATCH: RETHINKING EMAIL
Image credits: AOL; ZigMail Smarter inboxes The email inbox, though familiar, is hardly intuitive. Even with prioritization, every message gets relatively similar treatment, making it difficult to determine which must be attended to quickly, or at all. New services employ novel visual interfaces to help users organize messages. Alto: AOL’s Alto sorts messages, searches and attachments into stacks. ZigMail: ZigMail sorts a user’s email into titled categories.
THINGS TO WATCH: RETHINKING EMAIL
Image credits: Mailbox; Gander Better mail management As more people check work and personal messages on one device, it’s becoming important to help people better manage their messages. Mailbox: The Mailbox app is optimized for fast sorting for users with multiple inboxes. Gander: Users can drag and drop mail into sections using Gander.
THINGS TO WATCH: SIMPLIFYING ADDRESSES
& STAMPS Image credits: Postcard on the Run; Sincerely Fixing the address problem Since people don’t send physical mail as often as they used to, they’re less diligent about keeping track of addresses, one obstacle to sending out physical cards. One solution is to require that the sender provide only a social media account or email address—IDs that tend to be stable over time—rather than a mailing address. Another is making it easier to get addresses from friends via apps. Postal Gopher: Postcard on the Run will find addresses and update your contacts. Sincerely’s Magic: Sincerely lets users send products to fellow users without an address.
THINGS TO WATCH: SIMPLIFYING ADDRESSES
& STAMPS Image credit: Post Danmark Simpler stamps Postal services are developing digital postage stamps—in the form of codes—to replace the physical versions. PortoMobil: In Denmark, people can text “porto” to a Post Danmark number to receive a code to write on an envelope in lieu of a stamp.
APPENDIX: MORE ABOUT OUR EXPERTS/INFLUENCERS
TOM ALLASON, founder and CEO, Shutl Allason is a serial entrepreneur. His courier infatuation began while working at his only “real job,” as a trainee shipbroker, where he learned the business from the ground up. After a bad experience with his local courier firm, Allason set up eCourier.co.uk in 2003 with the novel ambition of making customers happy. In 2009, eCourier.co.uk reached No. 6 on Deloitte’s list of the U.K.’s fastest-growing technology businesses. Allason left eCourier.co.uk in 2008 to set about solving delivery for e-commerce. Later that year, Shutl was born. The company enables same-day delivery by connecting retailers with local delivery services. Allason fosters support for other entrepreneurs as a trustee at FoundationStone, which makes seed donations to startup charities. EVAN BAEHR, co-founder, Outbox A fan of wax seals and handwritten thank you notes, Baehr is passionate about changing how we communicate with each other where the digital and physical meet. From fundraising to hiring, Baehr sells the vision of Outbox wherever he goes. Previously, he worked on the Facebook platform and for PayPal co- founder Peter Thiel, served in the White House and U.S. House of Representatives, and graduated from Princeton, Yale and Harvard Business School. ALEXA HIRSCHFELD, co-founder, Paperless Post Paperless Post has delivered over 80 million online invitations since it launched in 2009, introducing design as a core value of the medium, removing ads and changing the way people look at the vertical. The company, co‐founded by Hirschfeld and her brother James, has raised over $12 million in venture financing. Hirschfeld has been recognized as one of Fortune’s “10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” and was one of Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology” in both 2010 and 2011. She was also named an NYC Venture Fellow in 2012 by