|Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from one of RetailWire’s recent online discussions. Each business morning on RetailWire.com, retail industry execs get plugged in to the latest news and issues with key insights from a “BrainTrust” panel of retail industry experts.|
UPS is making special deliveries this week to residents in five test markets around the U.S. The packages contain discount coupons and samples from a wide variety of retailers and consumer goods marketers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Johnson & Johnson, Sephora, Williams Sonoma, Zappos and others.
The UPS Direct to Door program will begin its test to consumers in zip codes in Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. Each package delivered to consumers contains roughly 12 offers and samples.
“As marketing channels evolve and consumer choices increase, we need new touch points to connect with customers,” said Pat Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Williams Sonoma, in a press release. “With a UPS Direct to Door delivery, we’re reaching an active consumer, an important factor for increased response rates.”
“Retail marketers are looking for ways to make their messages stand out,” said Casey Chroust, executive vice president of retail operations, Retail Industry Leaders Association. “UPS Direct to Door serves as a very unique and targeted marketing approach because messages are personally delivered to the door, which makes the delivery special.”
BrainTrust panelists applaud the idea and approach, and can clearly see the potential. “This is an innovative approach to direct mail from UPS which recognizes the challenge that marketers have in reaching consumers in this cluttered environment,” says Mark Price, Managing Partner, M. Squarted Group, Inc. “Over the past 10 years, coupon redemptions have consistently declined, as newspaper subscriptions have diminished and some of the direct mail co-ops have gone out of business.”
“Share the cost of delivery among a group of advertisers,” says John Boccuzzi, Jr., Managing Partner, Boccuzzi, LLC. “Rather than receiving something that looks like standard junk mail, the UPS Direct to Door program gives the package more importance and the household may in turn take the offers more seriously.”
“This has potential,” says James Tenser, Principal, VSN Strategies. “ Similar to the way that direct-mail coupon packets spread delivery costs across multiple brands, a UPS-delivered sample pack can make direct-to-home sampling more economical.”
Tenser says he will be interested in learning more about how UPS supports fulfillment of these sample packs and how customizable contents will be. “You can visualize the potential of this: Samples and offers might target specific delivery routes or block groups,” he says. “Even individual households could be targeted, where the offering brand has some ‘one-to-one’ information about purchase behavior.”
Panelists also express concern that marketers may be trying to find a new way of doing the same old thing. “Though not UPS, these types of co-op programs have been around for decades,” says Gene Detroyer, Independent Advisor. “The question that has to be asked is, ‘how are the target consumers chosen and delivered?’ Unless, EACH package is matched to a particular consumer, the marketer is wasting effort and resources. The days of dropping coupons to those who don’t use them are numbered.”
“The UPS approach of a direct door delivery will be very effective the first time it is used, undoubtedly,” says Price. “Over time, though, consumers will eventually regard the package as yet another gimmick and, if the offers and samples inside are not personalized, they will begin to discard them wholesale, just like other vehicles. UPS must strive to leverage consumer insight for personalization, or their novel approach will soon be on the discount rack, like all the rest.”