November 05, 2011

Epsilon Targeting released the 2011 Channel Preference Study, which shows 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 Channel Preference Study, titled The Formula For Success: Preference and Trust, reveals 66% growth in U.S. consumers' use of Facebook in the past year to research and review consumer product information. In response to an annual Epsilon Targeting survey of consumer channel preferences, 10% of U.S. respondents said they used Facebook for consumer product information, a jump from 6% in 2010.

At the same time, roughly a third of U.S. and Canadian survey respondents (33% U.S. and 31% Canadian) said they don't find ads on social media sites useful.

The study is based on completed surveys from 2,226 U.S. consumers and 2,574 Canadian consumers. In-depth information from the study is provided in a report titled, The Formula for Success: Preference and Trust.

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:

36% of U.S. consumers and 40% of Canadians said direct mail is the preferred channel to receive financial services information;

26% of U.S. consumers and 30% of Canadians said direct mail is more trustworthy than email;

50% of U.S. consumers and 48% of Canadians said they pay more attention to postal mail than email;

60% of U.S. consumers and 64% of Canadians said they enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail, highlighting an emotional connection;

30% of U.S. consumers said they're receiving more mail that interests them compared to a year ago, and just 50% (down from

63% 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% in 2011 (from 47% 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," said 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% of U.S. consumers and 29% of Canadians use TV daily to get consumer product information, down from 43% and 35% respectively in 2010;

The least trustworthy channels are social media and blogs, achieving only 6% trust among U.S. consumers and 5% among Canadians;

The number of U.S. respondents who said internet use "is more anonymous" declined to 8% in 2011 from 11% in 2010;

Personally addressed mail is greatly preferred to unaddressed, with numbers in the insurance category showing a 31% to 5% gap;

34% of U.S. consumers who prefer email over mail cited "saving on paper" as the main reason, up strongly from 21% in 2010;

In 2011, 39% of U.S. consumers claimed awareness of group deal web sites, lagging behind the 53% 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," said Storey. "Consumers appreciate brands that pay attention to their interests and stated preferences."

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