Methodology

The Paper Reach Survey is an initiative that was born from the need to gather for the Belgian media landscape (advertisers and agencies) robust, up-to-date and objective data about the attitudes and behaviors of consumers regarding their letterbox, and specifically towards adressed advertising mail (or Paper Mail, also called Direct Mail). This data, and specifically the key performance indicators it provides, will help you, as an advertiser or agency, to make an informed choice regarding your media mix.

This study had two objectives:

  • Enable you as an advertiser or agency to estimate the impact of your Paper Mail campaigns
  • Provide a reliable reference and a recognized measurement system for Paper Mail as a medium

Within this context, bpost put together a reliable task force to carry out this study. Discover which experts took part in this technical committee. The study was conducted with a representative panel over two complementary stages. Read more about the methodology applied.

Stage 1: “Establishment Survey” or exploratory research

Through online and phone interviews, the general behaviors, attitudes and preferences of consumers regarding their letterbox as an advertising medium was mapped, as well as the profile of the respondents. Based on the respondents of this survey, a consumer panel was created for stage 2.

Stage 2: “Media Behavior Survey” or registration of the behavior regarding specific Paper Mails

During this stageparticipants filled out an online logbook daily, identifying every piece of Paper Mail received during the first week and indicating their behavior regarding these piece up to three weeks after reception. This logbook allowed constructing the key performance indicators for Paper Mail:
  • Net Reach: percentage of Paper Mails that are read by their recipient
  • Emotion: percentage of Paper Mails that generated a positive emotion for the recipient
  • Exposure: the average number of exposures to the advertising message of one given Paper Mail. These exposures are due to actions such as opening, reading, sorting, etc.
  • Number of readers: the average number of readers for one given Paper Mail.
  • Reaction: percentage of Paper Mails that generated an acion (pre-sales, sales or word-of-mouth)
  • Lifetime: percentage of Paper Mails that are still active in the heart of the home (not thrown away or archived) 1, 2 or 3 weeks after reception.

Here are the main methodological details for the two complementary stages:

Stage 1: “Establishment Survey”

  • Sample: N = 4.585 persons representative of the Belgian population over 18
  • Method: Online (CAWI) and phone (CATI)
  • Periods: February 2020, September 2020 and December 2020.
  • Weighting: CIM Golden Standards

Stage 2: “Media Behavior Survey” : online logbook

  • Sample: 1.119 Belgian consumers for a total of 5.505 Paper Mails registered.
  • Method: online logbook covering one week of reception and 3 weeks of behavior recording.
  • Periods:
    • 1st wave: March 2020
    • 2nd wave: June 2020
    • 3rd wave: October 2020
    • 4th wave: November 2020
    • 5th wave: December 2020
*Note: the specific total lockdown period of late March-late May was avoided because the number of Paper Mail campaigns was too low. Several new waves are scheduled in 2021.

Based on these two stages, the “Paper Reach” Media Tool was developed. This tool gives access to the key performance indicators regarding the Reach of Paper Mail in 2 or 3 steps, according to the user’s needs.
Read more about the data access and definitions

Data access:

The Media Tool gives access to the key performance indicators regarding the Reach of Paper Mail in 2 or 3 steps, according to the user’s needs.
  1. Pick an industry: all industries or one in particular
  2. Pick a profile: for certain industries for which the number of observations is sufficient (supermarkets, retail fashion, banking & insurance), users can choose a specific target (FR/NL, male/female, purchasing responsible…) that enables the selection of additional criteria in step 3.
  3. Pick a sub-profile: access to additional socio-demographic criteria (social class, etc.).
Note that the level of socio-demographic detail available for each industry can vary according the number of available observed Paper Mails. For example, we propose a combined 18-34 age group when the number of Paper Mails for the 18-24 and 25-34 groups isn’t sufficient.

Definitions

Paper Mail (also called Direct Mail)
All commercial advertising mail: letters, catalogues or commercial magazines and any other commercial printed media baring the name of a brand.
The following are therefore not considered: personal mail, administrative mail, bills, written press (newspapers and magazines) and parcels. Unadressed leaflets aren’t considered either.

Net Reach
Net Reach is the reading rate with 3 cumulated levels of reading: read entirely, read partially and browsed/looked at.

Emotions
The percentage of Paper Mails that generated a positive emotion for the recipient.

Exposures
The average number of exposures to the advertising message of one piece of Paper Mail. These exposures are related to various actions such as opening, reading, sorting, etc. These various exposures all have the same “weighting” of 1.

Example 1: Mrs. X receives a Paper Mail from a specific brand :

  • She looks at the envelope and opens it: 1 exposure
  • She browses quickly through the advertising content inside the envelope: 1 exposure
  • She places the Paper Mail in a visible spot in her house: 1 exposure
  • A few days later, before going out grocery shopping, she takes the Paper Mail and reads it attentively: 1 exposure
  • She decides to take it with her in order to use one of the coupons, which leads to one more exposure.
In this case, 5 exposures are counted for the Paper Mail for Mrs. X.

Example 2 : Mr. Y receives a Paper Mail from a specific company :

  • He opens it and reads it attentively: 1 exposure
  • He decides to post it on his fridge with a magnet: 1 exposure
  • After a few days, he takes it down from the fridge and throws it out: 1 exposure
In this case, 3 exposures are counted for the Paper Mail for Mr. Y. Note: If Mr. Y had thrown out the Paper Mail without opening it, no exposure would have been counted, even if it’s possible Mr. Y threw it out only after reading the message on the envelope.

Number of readers
The average number of different readers for one given Paper Mail. Note: all percentages are expressed based on the total gross number of Paper Mails received.

Reactions
Percentage of Paper Mails that generated an actionon 3 different levels:

  1. Pre-sales: visit store orwebsite, snip coupon, conduct an internet search, etc.
  2. Sales: make a purchase (with or without using a coupon)
  3. Word of mouth: talk about the Paper Mail with another person or share something about the Paper Mail on social media

Lifetime :
The percentage of Paper Mails that are still active in the heart of the home 1, 2 or 3 weeks after reception. ‘Active’ means that the Paper Mail wasn’t thrown out or archived.

Relationship with the brand
Customer: the respondent knows the sender and is a customer
No customer: the customer doesn’t know the sender or knows the sender but isn’t a client..

Social class:
The definition of social class is set according to a ratio calculated on the basis of the profession of the main financial provider and their level of education. The target population is ranked according to the value obtained from the combination of these two variables, then divided into eight groups of roughly similar sizes (they cannot be perfectly equal, as categories cannot be split up perfectly evenly). By convention, “Group 1” designates the group with the highest values (and therefore the highest professional and/or educational level) and “Group 8” the group with the lowest values.

Nielsen zones:

  • Nielsen 1: Provinces of West and East Flanders
  • Nielsen 2: Provinces of Antwerp and Limbourg ; province of Flemish Brabant excluding the greater Brussels area (30 municipalities)
  • Nielsen 3: Greater Brussels (30 municipalities): 19 municipalities + Drogenbos, Grimbergen, Kraainem, Linkebeek, Machelen, Rhode-St-Genese, Tervuren, Vilvorde, Wemmel, Wezembeek-Oppem, Zaventem
  • Nielsen 4: Provinces of Hainaut and Walloon Brabant (arrondissement of Nivelles)
  • Nielsen 5: Provinces of Liège, Namur and Luxembourg

Family size:
Children under 15: persons surveyed belonging to a household including one or several children under the age of 15.

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