As a young, unmarried millennial, it is not uncommon to still live at home with parents just two years after graduating. That being said, when I get direct mail, my parents see it before I do. One morning as I walked downstairs to head to work, I saw my mom waiting for me with a grim look. Why was she staring at me like that? That’s when I spotted the direct mail piece on my dining room table, next to her.
“You got mail yesterday. Is there something you want to tell me?” she asks, as she shoves the pamphlet across the table towards me. I hesitantly reach over to read the front cover. Diaper coupons fall to the floor. “Welcome to Motherhood. Congratulations! We are so excited for your little miracle who’s on his or her way, and we can’t wait to help you plan for the big day!”
I am definitely not pregnant, nor should I have ever received this very direct messaging, especially with my mother right…there. For work, I do a lot of competitive research for my clients, and one is a fertility clinic. Should this warrant coupons and a pamphlet being sent directly to my home?
I also received many emails asking me to participate in soon-to-be-mother surveys. Assuming it was spam, I had just deleted them. Along with emails, sponsored ads for baby brands and prenatal vitamins started showing up on all my social media accounts. I began connecting the dots in my head—from the emails, to the sponsored ads, to the direct mail piece I now had in my sweaty palms in front of my mother.
Consumer advertising today has an incredible ability to reach ultra-specific market segments. The Internet and social media are undeniably a part of everyday life around the globe. Research shows 42% of the world’s population is now online, and 84% in the USA alone. (1)
Ever notice you get sponsored ads on Instagram or Facebook after searching something on Google? Or that a day or two after you put clothes in your virtual shopping cart, you get a coupon in your email—even if you never ended up going through with the purchase? Everything is tracked through social media, Google searches and even credit cards. (2)
Even though many companies have turned towards social media as a way to promote their brand, direct mail still plays a very important role in marketing. I explained to my mom that I received the pamphlet because of the in-depth market research I do for my client. Not sure if she believes me, but it seems I have inadvertently become a cautionary tale and quite frankly, am lucky to make it out alive.