Becoming a couple is an important and exciting stage in anyone’s life but the age range is broad. It means brands can struggle to understand whether people are in the early stages of a relationship or committed for the long-term. It is also difficult to discover a couple’s spending power.
However, when couples have money to spend they will splash the cash on time with friends, buying clothes and going out, according to the Royal Mail’s The Life Stages of Mail research by MarketReach.
The difficulty for marketers is that younger couples can be under financial pressure. Many are putting funds aside to furnish their home or to pay the rent or mortgage. They might also be tucking money away to pay for a wedding or to start a family.
So what’s the advice when it comes to targeting couples with direct mail?
The Royal Mail study says couples are effectively Mr and Mrs Average. They respond averagely to mail, spend an average amount of time on it, get sent an average amount and their response is pretty average.
However younger couples are open to reading mail that relates to their new responsibility as a home owner or tenant, while door drops can have a significant impact when promoting local businesses or amenities.
Many couples want to improve their home and transform it into somewhere they can entertain friends, especially if money is not so readily available for going out socialising.
Furniture retailer IKEA is one brand tapping into this trend.
Its corporate vision is to create a better everyday life for people using functional home furniture, and it has run campaigns in the past to get couples thinking about spending time in their gardens.
The company used data to identify customers with gardens and then sent them weather forecasts using personalised mailers. This campaign was linked to email and other digital activity.
“We use people’s life stages, their purchase behaviour and other available information to design relevant and personalised direct communication for couples and others,” says IKEA’s family manager for UK and Ireland Magnus Holst.
Many couples who are beginning their life together are living in relatively small homes or flats and a lack of storage space can mean a mailing is quickly put in the recycling pile. To avoid this and to engage with couples mail must be relevant, have strong imagery and a clever creative.
If a mailing does engage it will often be taken out of the home by people who want to respond while commuting or when they are at work, so digital response mechanisms should be included.
The research also reveals how leaflets that include vouchers and coupons can encourage store visits.
Many couples will look to upgrade to larger accommodation as their earnings increase or they decide to start a family.
One brand aware of this is nationwide removals and storage company Pickfords which uses direct mail to target households whose home is coming on to the market or is under offer.
It makes sure its mailings are memorable, especially at a time when couples are probably de-cluttering.
“The creative has to stand out from other removal companies’ mailers so we distribute a post card in envelopes,” says head of sales and marketing Lyndsey Dakin. “It is designed like a wedding invitation, gold print on white card which gives the mailer a feel of quality. There are no pictures of trucks or warehouses which you may see in our other marketing materials.”
Dakin says the mailer is well-timed because couples or families will usually need a removal service within the next four weeks. The company enjoys a return on its mailing activity of about 4%. “We incorporate a unique URL so we can measure traffic from the mailing programme.”
Another challenge for brands is that they do not know which partner is the most likely to open the mail or take responsibility for it.
With such a difficult demographic group brands do need to think differently.
When it comes to couples who do not have children or are older and have quite a bit of spare time there is an opportunity to exploit the latest hobby trends, for example.
Monarch Airlines is supporting the current craze of adult colouring in.
It targets broad demographic groups with its direct mail to inspire people into booking flights to sunnier climes. Many homes will contain couples who love going on holiday, and Monarch knows people do not only read to relax on holiday they also enjoy arts and crafts.
This summer’s direct response campaign includes direct mail, email and outdoor. Each execution features a hand-drawn black and white illustration with touches of colour to indicate partial colouring. Consumers are encouraged to ‘colour their summer’ to associate with Monarch’s aim to offer a personal service. The campaign uses inspirational summer holiday imagery to plug destinations such as Barcelona and Lisbon.
“We do periodically target groups at different life stages,” says Monarch Airlines’ DM and CRM manager Liam Gibson. “We combine this segmentation with knowledge of their last destination booked so we can offer different offers or incentives through DM and email.”
Reaching couples with direct mail is certainly not easy but they do engage with mailings from national and local companies if the content is relevant and there are digital response channels.
- 53% of couples say that they usually open the post
Having received addressed mail in the past 12 months:
- 25% of couples have bought or ordered something
- 20% have visited a store
- 15% have requested more information about a product or service
- 13% have passed on an item of mail to someone else in their home