2018 Annual Household Study Recap

The USPS released their Annual Household Survey. We read through all 200 pages to give you the TL;DR (Too long; Didn’t read) version! Here are 10 of our favorite facts that we found the most interesting.

1. In 2018, 115.9 billion pieces of mail were received the in US. The USPS identified five different categories of household mail. Marketing Mail-Regular ranked the highest with 55.8 billion pieces received. First-Class Mail ranked the second highest with 39 billion pieces received.

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2. Year over year, mail volumes remain in decline. However, in comparison to previous years, the decrease of 2.1% to pieces delivered and 1.4% to marketing mail is minimal. It even makes us feel a little bit optimistic.

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3.  One of the most interesting findings in the study is the relationship between internet access and mail sent.  The study reinforces concepts we already know to be true; that those with higher incomes tend to have a higher rate of internet access, and those with higher incomes also tend to receive the most mail.

But what is interesting is those with the highest rate of internet access are actually those who are sending the most mail, and those with the lowest amount of internet access are sending the least.

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4. Today, consumers have many options on how to pay their bills this study found that 59% of consumers paid at least one bill by mail. However, this implies that 41% of consumers are not using mail to pay bills. The study goes on to say that households paid 55 percent more bills using the Internet than by mail.

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5. In an industry where omni-channel is all the buzz, channel allocation is gold. This study breaks down spending per channel over the past three years. The top three categories are Internet, TV, and Direct Mail. While Internet and TV budgets increase significantly, the budget for Direct Mail only increased 1% compared to the previous year. Large events like the Olympics and elections can also effect the breakdown of budgets year to year.

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6. Similar to how income level and internet access relate, education also plays a role in the amount of mail received. The amount of advertising mail received increases as income, education, and age increase. The reason for this is two-fold. First, direct mail is a written type of communication, and education may play some role in its relative effectiveness compared to television or radio advertising. Second, education is not only tied to current household income, but also to future household income.

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7. As we know, internet access is tied to income and education. However, advertising mail is sent even when new advertising media is available. As the table below demonstrates, the Internet is often used to target potential customers through direct mail advertising. Conversely, direct mail can also be used as a complement to the Internet by directing potential customers to specific company websites. With that being said, are your mail pieces working smarter not harder? Are they reinforcing consistent messages?

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8. Although there was 115 billion pieces of mail received in 2018m, not all of it is being read or interacted with by the households. The image below shows the percentage of mail that is read, scanned and not read at all. 49% of the mail received was read while only 26% of it was not read at all.

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9. The amount of mail a household receives can also affect whether or not the customer interacts with it. The study found that the more mail a household receives weekly, the more turned off they are and less likely to read it. Households that received 0-7 pieces of mail weekly read 15% of the mail. Compared to households who received that 16-17 pieces of mail only read 9% of that mail. However, we also see that about 50 percent of households usually read all or some of their mail; a percentage that is unaffected by volume received. Additionally, the percent of households that usually don’t read their advertising mail is about the same regardless of how much mail the household receives.

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10. Lower income households tend to read more advertising mail than their wealthy counterparts potentially due to the fact they receive less of it. When it comes to age, older heads of household tend to read more of advertising mail than the younger heads of household.

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