Direct Mail, Catalogs To Decline

Posted on 11/11/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Traditionally, direct mail brochures and catalogs have been among the biggest users of stock and assignment photography. Look for that market to continue to decline due to postage costs and general ineffectiveness of this type of marketing.

During the second quarter of 2008, U.S. households received 1,060 million credit card offers—down 17% from the 1,275 million offers in the same quarter a year earlier. According to market-research firm Synovate Mail Monitor, credit card companies sent over 5.2 billion unsolicited offers in 2007, and this number is expected to drop by 1 billion in 2008.

In the third quarter of 2008, home equity credit mailings dropped 66% to 72.9 million, compared with 215 million for the same period of 2007. Citibank reduced its consumer banking solicitations by 98%, compared to the previous quarter; Charles Schwab cut back such activities by 95%. Bank of America and HSBC sent out 49% and 44% fewer credit card offers, respectively.

Prior to October 2008, the U.S. Postal Service projected it would carry 9 billion fewer pieces of all types of mail in fiscal 2008 than in 2007.

The American Catalog Mailers Association estimates that catalog-mailing costs are $5.6 billion per year. The Washington Post quotes the association’s executive director Hamilton Davison: “The industry is feverishly trying to figure out a way to find viable [customers] in other ways, and when it does, there’ll be an enormous migration away from mail.”

Earlier this year, a survey by the Direct Marketing Association showed a 55% drop in the number of companies that said a paper catalog was their primary market channel for business. Fewer catalogs means less need for still photography.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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