Direct Mail…Effective Marketing or Waste of Paper?

By Posted in - Marketing & Public Relations on July 15th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty quick to throw out direct mail these days. I barely have time to sort through the important stuff. I used to enjoy flipping through the catalogues, but with the exception of a select few, I have started tossing those as well.

In fact, it was a catalogue that sparked the idea for this blog post. Or should we say, the massive mailer from Restoration Hardware that landed on my front steps a few weeks ago. This thing was unreal…not sure how my mailman even carried it from the truck. My first reaction was…what a waste of paper! And being a PR person, my second thought was how much RH had to allocate from their marketing budget just for the printing and shipping costs for this beast.

Apparently, I was not alone. After doing a little digging it turns out quite a few people were turned off by this tactic. Articles like The Internet Tells RH What It Can Do With Its 17-Pound Catalog showcase some of the creative ways people have used their mailer. The response on social media channels has been extremely negative. Someone even created a Tumblr account, Deforestation Hardware, that is seeking to organize a mass return of the catalogs back to a Restoration Hardware location in L.A.

Surely some research must have been done for them to make the call to mass produce and ship these to households across America. Certainly they considered there would be a negative response by some, especially those who are environmentally conscious. And with so much shopping done online these days, are catalogues even necessary anymore?

So it got me thinking…is direct mail still an effective marketing tool? For all the marketing professionals out there, do you use still direct mail or catalogues as a part of your marketing mix? And for the consumers, effective tactic or waste of paper? We would love to hear your thoughts!



(2) awesome comment(s)...

  • Josie - Reply

    July 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Clearly I couldn’t see very well as I was typing in the little black comment box. Sooner enough….Sheesh. 🙂

  • Josie Butler - Reply

    July 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm


    Good question, you ask! I would say catalogs for things like clothing, furniture, etc.. (consumer goods) have lost their appeal since online browsing is so convenient (and easier to conceal at work — jk!).

    I will say for fundraising, DM still hasn’t been phased out just yet. There’s an older generation of donors who don’t give online (think 65+) but respond well to DM. Sooner enough, though, I suspect we will send a trend towards online giving, as well, as more millennials become givers.

    Just my two cents!

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