Each year, the USPS publishes the Household Diary Study (HDS) as a way to measure the types and volumes of mail sent and received within the mail system, track trends in mail usage over time, and compare mail usage by household’s demographic characteristics. This year’s report is the 34th of its kind to be published by the USPS and includes essential insight into how fiscal year 2020 was impacted by the COVID crisis and other external factors by comparing the numbers from 2020 to those of previous years.
A notable difference in USPS service this past year was the overall decline in mail volume. In 2020, the most noticeable reductions in mail volume were 4.8% in First-Class Mail® and 10% in Marketing Mail®. However, mail volume was down across the board (with the exception of a few subclasses). This is due in part to cultural shifts and different technological alternatives available to customers such as online bill pay and electronic non-profit giving options.
One thing that has not changed is the United States Post Offices’ impact on the world’s mail. The United States only makes up approximately 5% of the world’s population, while the United States Postal Service® delivers over 45% of the world’s mail. According to the HDS, the use of post offices for mailing services continues to dominate the mail service industry despite the steady decline in the frequency of visits over the past few years. 49% of all U.S. households utilized a post office at least once monthly in 2020, while just 12% visited a private mailing company. Over 18% of all households in the U.S. visited the post office three or more times a month. Even with the growing availability of alternatives to mail products and services, in-person visits to postal facilities remain strong.
Importantly, the effectiveness of direct mail continues to be readily measurable, more so than most other media. Because of this, it continues to be a go-to for marketers hoping to share their messages and see a return on investment. Businesses can track the response rate to a mailing far more precisely than they can for a television commercial or magazine advertisement. This feature alone gives advertising mail a key advantage over other media.
With new technologies and services surfacing every day, it can be difficult to see a clear picture of what is happening within the USPS and the mail stream. The HSB gives marketers, mailers, and postal enthusiasts an inside look at data and numbers that can help pick out patterns in the past as well as help them plan for the future. Most importantly, it shows that no matter what changes the USPS faces, mail and the postal service continue to be as important as ever.
To read the Household Diary Study in its entirety, visit https://www.prc.gov/dockets/document/119244 . To hear what BCC Software’s Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Chris Lien has to say about this year’s study and other important mailing news, listen to the most recent installment of the Industry Corner Podcast, here: https://bccsoftware.com/resource-library/industry-corner-podcast/ep046/
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