The consumer mailstream

The United States Postal Service sends out a monthly magazine about direct mail. In this month’s issue, they publish what is in their customer’s mailstream. They want us marketers to know what our direct mail pieces need to ‘stand out against.’

Unfortunately for direct mail’s cause, the numbers are showing an overwhelming percent of unwanted mail, direct mail in its various forms (flyers, letter-sized direct mail, donation requests, nonprofit letters, and advertising). And I’m counting catalogs as wanted mail.

I had to do a bit of deciphering. The USPS looking through their own glasses thought that the main criteria for a sort was whether or not the piece of

mail travels first class or standard mail. I don’t check whether its first or standard mail before throwing the junk mail in my recycling bin as I go in my back door.


The nice imagery is the USPS’s graph. The listing on the left is my own doing.

Not surprisingly when I do the list, the first or standard criteria is kicked out and my list just shows the type of mail in the mailstream( in descending order). Also not surprisingly, direct mail in some of its various forms is at the top.

I massaged the data a bit more, and choose what mail I would want in my mailstream. The ‘What this Consumer Cares About’ list shows that over half of my mail is something I don’t care to look at, and yes I include catalogs in my ‘want to look at’ list.

Admittedly my mailstream is different, ever since renting a ‘Pak Mail’ box (not USPS box), I don’t get the flyers. I rented a box after my bank checks and then my IRS tax refund got put in my neighbors’ mailbox. One neighbor returned it to the post office with the appropriate note only to have it back in her box the next day. Then there was the time an important letter was put between the pages of the advertising circular. It almost got thrown out.

Can you tell I’m not a direct mail fan. My motto, neither a sender or a receiver be.