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A tidal wave of junk mail?

31st January 2011

'Families face tidal wave of junk mail as Royal Mail seeks five-fold boost in earnings'

We're talking about an article in the Daily Mail – let's try to put things in perspective…

The article is about Royal Mail's intention to deliver more door-drops. In March 2010 a cap on the amount of unaddressed junk mail the company can deliver was scrapped and Royal Mail can now distribute as much unaddressed junk mail as it likes. So far this hasn't resulted in more Royal Junk Mail. Postmen all over the country continue to drop leaflets from Farmfoods, Virgin Media, and Domino's Pizza into people's houses as they've always done; there hasn't been any noticeable increase.

According to the Daily Mail's well-placed insider Royal Mail is hoping to increase junk mail volumes five-fold by getting more small and medium sized businesses to use its door-to-door service. At the moment smaller junk mailers tend to either hire local leaflet distributors or deliver leaflets themselves. Royal Mail apparently wants to make inroads into this market while at the same time increasing the 'door-drop medium' in general.

How? It's developing a Magic Online Tool that will encourage smaller junk mailers to switch to Royal Mail.

Will it lead to a five-fold increase in door-drops? Probably not. Royal Mail claims it currently has a share of 25% in the market for unaddressed junk mail. Even if this would increase to as much as 75% the total volume of door-drops would need to more than double for there to be a five-fold increase. Very unlikely indeed.

Still, that Royal Mail is hoping to deliver more unaddressed junk mail is beyond doubt – it was why the cap on door-drops was axed in the first place. And, trying to get more business from smaller junk mailers seems feasible enough. However, I don't think you'll need to prepare for a tidal wave of junk mail. If anything it will mean that postmen get to deliver more junk mail at the expense of local distribution companies and the inserts industry.

Nothing to worry about then? Not quite. That Royal Mail wants to deliver more junk mail is, I reckon, fair enough. What isn't so fair is that the company at the same time refuses to tell householders that they can stop door-drops delivered by the postman by signing up to the company's Door-to-Door Opt-Out. This was what I told the Daily Mail when they phoned me last week to get a quote for the article. We had a nice discussion about junk mail in general and all the things that are wrong with the Door-to-Door Opt-Out in particular. As it goes, the quote is complete nonsense:

And Robert Rijkhoff, founder of pressure group Stop Junk Mail, said: 'A lot of people will be quite upset about this. Junk mail is usually irrelevant because there is no need for it.'

Is stupid publicity better than none?

Last updated: 
31st January 2011