The 2011 Channel Preference Study reveals that through economic turmoil, technology advances and channel proliferation, direct mail continues to deliver as consumers' preferred means of receiving marketing messages from brands. Epsilon Targeting’s study, titled "The Formula For Success: Preference and Trust," reveals 66 percent growth in U.S. consumers’ use of Facebook in the past year to research and review consumer product information. Although that sounds impressive, the true numbers show that only 10 percent of U.S. respondents said they used Facebook for consumer product information – a jump from 6 percent in 2010.
At the same time, roughly a third of U.S. and Canadian survey respondents (33 percent U.S. and 31 percent Canadian) said they don’t find ads on social media sites useful.
The study is based on approximately 5,000 completed consumer surveys. In-depth information from the study is provided in a free of charge by clicking here.
The 2011 research shows that despite direct mail’s reputation for being “old school" or expensive, it is the top choice of U.S. and Canadian consumers for the receipt of brand communications in almost every category, ranging from health to household products, to household services, insurance and financial services, including credit card offers. The preference for direct mail also extends to the 18-34 year old demographic.
Key findings from the study include:
• 26 percent of U.S. consumers and 30 percent of Canadians said direct mail is more trustworthy than email
• 50 percent of U.S. consumers and 48 percent of Canadians said they pay more attention to postal mail than email
• 60 percent of U.S. consumers and 64 percent of Canadians said they enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail, highlighting an emotional connection
• 30 percent of U.S. consumers said they’re receiving more mail that interests them compared to a year ago, and just 50 percent (down from 63 percent in 2010) said more information is sent to them in the mail – indicating marketers are improving targeting efforts
• The perception that reading email is faster declined among U.S. email account holders to 45 percent in 2011 (from 47 percent in 2010), suggesting clogged inboxes are draining time.
“Consumers use and trust certain communications channels more than others. This means that marketers need to understand which channels resonate most at various points in the consumer purchase cycle and incorporate a cross-channel strategy that leverages data and technology to communicate on a one-to-one basis," says company VP Warren Storey. “Our study suggests that brands should use a variety of mediums to build relationships, starting with trusted channels like direct mail, then layering the message to re-enforce it through other channels."
The 2011 Channel Preference Study also found:
• 37 percent of U.S. consumers and 29 percent of Canadians use TV daily to get consumer product information, down from 43 percent and 35 percent respectively in 2010
• The least trustworthy channels are social media and blogs, achieving only 6 percent trust among U.S. consumers and 5 percent among Canadians
• The number of U.S. respondents who said Internet use “is more anonymous" declined to 8 percent in 2011 from 11 percent in 2010
• Personally addressed mail is greatly preferred to unaddressed
• 34 percent of U.S. consumers who prefer email over mail cited “saving on paper" as the main reason, up strongly from 21 percent in 2010;
• In 2011, only 39 percent of U.S. consumers claimed awareness of group deal web sites, lagging behind the 53 percent awareness level among Canadian counterparts.
“The key learning from this study is that marketers should recognize consumer preferences and establish a trustworthy relationship across a variety of channels," Storey concludes. “Consumers appreciate brands that pay attention to their interests and stated preferences."
Epsilon Targeting has now completed three surveys on the topic of consumer channel preference to generate trending data. The August 2011 research was preceded by an initial study in February 2008 as well as a survey in February 2010.