Discussion Papers

Klaus-Peter Kaas, Matthias Uhrig, Frank Behnam unter Mitarbeit von Thomas Baldry und Wolfgang Elsenbast

Substitutionskonkurrenz zwischen Direct-Mail und alternativen Werbeträgern
Nr. 137 / Dezember 1994


In Germany the collection, transport and delivery of addressed advertising mail (Direct-mail) is summarized under the product name 'Infopost'. As a substantial part of the letter service, which is in turn the core business of DBP Postdienst, it faces increasing indirect competition from alternative advertising media. Additionally, the expected liberalization of the Direct-mail market is likely to generate plentiful direct competition.

This study considers the fact that only sparse information about market relations between Direct-mail and alternative advertising media exists in Germany. It consists of desk-research of statistics, a set of advertising expert-interviews and, finally, an investigation into companies' decision making processes based on different future scenarios of the advertising market's environment.

Direct-mail was unanimously viewed as an individual and effective means to reach target groups, especially regular customers. It also seems to have abandoned its 'below-the-line' image due to increasing professionalism in the business. In contrast to traditional mass media, a relatively precise control of costs and results is possible. On the other hand, the growth of unaddressed bulk mail limits its acceptance by the customer. In the future Direct-mail will be increasingly combined with classical mass media. New media that are suitable for direct marketing, like CD-ROM or PC-discs, have made only a weak appearance up to now. They seem to be of use for products and services that cannot be easily explained using classical mailings.

Asked to react to five different future scenarios, the decision makers confirmed the opinions of the experts. The results show that smaller customers in particular are afraid to be viewed as dubious advertisers. In addition, an efficient selection of recipients' addresses has a significant impact on the effectiveness of Direct-mail. Because of poor precision in delivery, high prices and limited flexibility, Infopost, which was introduced by DBP Postdienst in 1993, was judged badly.

Asked to allocate their advertising budget for the year 2000 to the three distinct groups of classical mass media, mass media with elements of response, and direct advertising, the decision makers concluded that mass media with elements of response as well as direct advertising will gain importance relative to classical mass media. Despite Direct-mail profiting from the trend towards more direct and more individually designed advertising, it will tend to lose importance amongst direct advertising media due to the growing importance of telephone marketing. This development will only stop, if technical progress or the reduction of relative costs result in an increased efficiency of the medium.

Based on a media-specific budget of DM 10 billion in 1993, an increase to approximately DM 14 billion in the year 2000 is forecasted.

Only German language version available.

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