UK retailers wasting almost £100 billion and 2 million trees per year with duplicated direct mail, Acquia research shows 

Reading, UK, 7 October 2020  – British retailers could be wasting as much as £98.5 billion and 1.8 million trees every year by posting mistargeted or duplicated marketing materials to customers, research from digital experience company Acquia has today revealed. 

For every piece of direct mail sent each year by retailers  – a double sided A5 postcard for example – there are an average of 942,000 duplications, meaning members of the same household receive exactly the same collateral. This approach is not only highly inefficient from a cost standpoint – it is also contributing to the needless destruction of trees, while yielding little value. 

Taking in to account that there are 306,605 registered retailers in the UK, this duplication equates to:

  • £98,542,050,975 on postage and printing costs*
  • Wasted resources of 1,794,217 trees **

Acquia researched retailers using its customer data platform (CDP) to ascertain how duplications of physical mail were impacting on operations. Across the board retailers were able to remove an average of 942,000 duplicate households by cross referencing individuals that shared the same address.

“Retailers are under increasing pressure to draw customers to them and engage them in ways that are new and innovative. While social media and online tools are an important part of the marketing mix, direct mail is still the most effective tool. Data from The Direct Marketing Association shows us that direct mail has a response rate of 4.4%, compared to just 0.12% for email,” said Acquia’s CMO, Lynne Capozzi. “However, cost management is critical, and in an economy where every penny counts, wasted expenditure cannot happen. Retailers must be able to manage their customer data in a meaningful way.”

Retailers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal but effective management of it presents an enormous challenge, as well as an enormous opportunity. Deduplication within households is just one way retailers can streamline communications and costs. Having an effective CDP in place means retailers can better manage the data they hold and ensure they are targeting customers at the right time and in the right way.

It is not only the cost saving to retailers that is important, the environmental impact is substantial. Not only would the reduction save 1.8 million trees, but also the associated emissions of transport and processing.

“Consumers not only want marketing that is specific and tailored to them, they also want to see the retailers they chose to buy with are taking environmental impact seriously. We often hear about spam in the context of emails but spam post can be just as problematic, “ continued Capozzi. “As well as de-depulicating individuals with shared addresses, retailers can further reduce postal waste by cross referencing address data with external sources, personalising direct mail and ensuring they are targeting customers with the highest propensity to buy, all through better data management.”


 Sources and further information:

About Acquia

Acquia is the open digital experience platform that enables organizations to build, host, analyze and communicate with their customers at scale through websites and digital applications. As the trusted open source leader, we use adaptive intelligence to produce better business outcomes for CX leaders.

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