Direct mail in the home
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Direct mail in the home

While there have been several studies conducted on the efficacy of print advertising and what catches the attention of consumers, the fate of direct mail once it enters the home has long been a mystery to marketers. But in 2015, an 18-month ethnographic study from Royal Mail MarketReach, the marketing and data services branch of the United Kingdom’s postal service, was released. Using video footage captured within study participants’ homes, MarketReach observed consumer habits to learn how direct mail is handled in the home.

This study showed that an average of 23 percent of direct mail is shared within members of a household. Truly effective and valuable messaging gets people talking, encouraging recipients to show the news or message to a spouse or family member that may find it useful or interesting. Direct mail can also be shared among friends and neighbours, extending beyond the household. Businesses can strategize their direct mail messaging to further this sharing habit and increase its reach beyond the recipient.

While some assume that direct mail is tossed away after it’s opened, valuable messaging encourages recipients to retain the item. On average, the typical household will keep a piece of advertising mail in their home for 17 days. Doordrop mail hooked onto doorknobs or tucked into doorframes is even more effective, staying in the home for an average of 38 days.


According to the MarketResearch ethnographic study, 39 percent of households have a dedicated display area for their mail. It could be pinned to a cork board or affixed onto a fridge with a magnet, which means that your message has the opportunity to be viewed several times over its 17-day lifespan. 51 percent of households display their mail in the kitchen, followed by 31 percent that display mail in the living room. With this knowledge, marketers should think creatively in their messaging, design and content to encourage prolonged display.

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