Royal Mail to include ‘delivered by..’ mark from June

Royal Mail is to start including the controversial “delivered by…” mark on direct mail from next month, part of a strategy to increase the visibility of the mail service’s brand in the face of increased competition from rivals.

Royal Mail

The mark, which sees the words “Delivered by….” next to the Royal Mail cruciform, will be phased in over a six month period from 23 June to allow non-marked items to be used up. Machine sorted franked and stamped mail as well as parcels and other stationary, estimated to amount to 12 billion items annually, will carry the mark.

Royal Mail argues that the mark is necessary to distinguish mail it handles and delivers for marketers from rivals. Deregulation in 2006 allowed competitors to offer business mail services, while the expected part-privatisation of the service will open Royal Mail to further competition from companies such as TNT Post and Royal Mail.

Ben Rhodes, Royal Mail’s head of marketing and commercial strategy, told Marketing Week that increased competition prompted it to look for ways to “establish that it is our brand behind a delivery”.

He adds: “It is now central to our success to have a strong brand proposition as well as good products. When you are regulated, you don’t need to have such a strong brand proposition as there is no choice.”

News of the mark prompted fierce criticism from many in the direct mail industry when first mooted last July. It was argued the mark takes away valuable space used by marketers, potentially hitting response rates.

The backlash caused Royal Mail to postpone the mark’s introduction, originally planned for September, to allow it consult with the industry. As a result, the mark will now appear top left on franked mail and top right on downstream access and retail mail rather than top centre as originally proposed. It will, however, be top centre on stamped mail.

Mike Lordan, chief of operation for the Direct Marketing Association, says the concessions are not enough. “Royal Mail does not own the envelopes that it delivers, so it’s hard to understand what right it believes it has to stamp its own marketing message on a medium that is not its property. If Royal Mail wants to market itself to householders by telling them who delivered their mail, then it should find another means of doing so,” he adds.

The postal operator claims an “overwhelming” majority of “downstream access customers” – those that collect and distribute mail before handing it to Royal Mail for delivery – back the move.

The Communication Workers Union also supports the change.

A Royal Mail-commissioned poll by YouGov found 77% of customers would welcome clarity on which company delivers mail, the postal service claims.

Read a Q&A with Ben Rhodes here

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