REUTERS – In a report by Ben Gruber on May 22, 2009 he cites that direct mail – or “junk” mail – whether you love it or hate it, is here to stay and that it can help stimulate the troubled U.S. economy.

In his report, Gruber points out that nearly one third of all mail delivered anywhere in the world is U.S. direct mail. While that volume has decreased in 2008, the figure is still staggering. According to the U.S. Postal Service, nearly 100 billion pieces of advertising mail were delivered to U.S. households last year.

Direct Mail Supporters and Detractors

Direct mail has its supporters and its detractors. William Craven works for an environmental group called ForestEthics. He says direct mail is a “pointless waste of natural resources.” Craven says, “Direct mail’s impact on the environment is enormous, especial considering that it’s something that most Americans don’t want and have no user for.” Craven points out that for direct mail there are 100 million trees are logged every year for something people largely don’t want and don’t use. Aside from the logging issue,  he also points out that the carbon footprint for the production and distribution of direct mail equates to that of some 6 million cars on U.S. highways.

But a strong case can be made for direct mail. One of direct mail’s supporters is Matthew Broder from Pitney Bowes, whose company represents the interests of direct mailers. He says that direct mail is recyclable and emits the same amount of carbon as that consumed by Americans when brewing their morning coffee. Broder says that the benefits of direct mail far outweigh the costs. He points out that direct mail very much stimulates economic activity. He says that study after study shows that consumers respond to direct mail. He points out that Pitney Bowes did a study showing that almost half of Americans have started a relationship with a business because of a direct mail piece they received.

According to the Direct Mail Association, the industry generates some two trillion dollars of sales and charitable contributions annually. Gruber points out in his report that although opinions on direct mail vary, most people are not ambivalent. They either love it or hate it.

As one woman being interviewed in the Reuters video report says, “If it can bring attention to a particular product or service, we need to stimulate the economy. We need to have people go out and purchase and buy and so the best thing I think to do is to find really creative, good ways to recycle those papers and to be creative as far as using it best for the environment.”

According to Broder, one thing is for certain – direct mail is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Broder also points out that there are several ways for consumers to decrease and have a say in the type of direct mail they receive. One such online service is dmachoice.org  that has 4 million registered users. Ironically, the association is seriously considering using direct mail to increase their membership.

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