Restoration Hardware recently kicked off its new, direct mailing marketing campaign much to the chagrin of mail carriers and environmentalists. The furniture chain has begun sending out shrink-wrapped packages of 13 different catalogs that weigh a reported 17 pounds.
The situation has confused many. Firstly, most believe that direct mail marketing is a seemingly dead practice in the age of the Internet, where search engines, social media and e-mails are thought to be more effective marketing tools. Secondly, sustainability is a growing priority for many people and businesses, which means that sending a massive, 17 pound mailing piece would logically likely affront many of Restoration Hardware’s intended recipients.
Though it’s easy to think that the Internet killed direct mail marketing, the numbers disagree. According to Marketing Profs, 6.5 out of 10 people who receive direct mailing either engage with the business who sent them the mail, or will purchase a product there. What’s more, Marketing Profs also reported that 34% of new customers choose businesses as a result of direct mail marketing, while only 25% do from email, and only 10% from search engines.
It’s also a cost effective marketing tactic. Businesses that spend about $167 on direct mailing, which is the average cost, can expect to receive $2,095 in sales as a result.
However, 17 pounds seems fairly excessive. The average direct mailer weights about 0.049 pounds, which means Restoration Hardware is sending a mailer that weighs about 347 times more than average.
The furniture chain is aware that some folks may not necessarily agree with their seemingly less-than-environmental marketing campaign, and has a page on their site titled (rather ironically), “Our Source Book Sustainability Initiative.” The page is intended to be a friendly explanation of their decision, but reads more like a company defense.
I would love to get this job as a printer, but I’d hate to be the postman carrying all these books! There are more effective ways to target your desired market. We provide a plethora of out of the box branding materials that pack a bigger punch, including floor and wall graphics, over-sized banners and posters, as well as ceiling danglers. These printed items are meant to catch the eye and build intrigue that is often lost in something these colossal books. People are missing the message in the 3,000 pages. Simple, clear cut and eye catching is the way to go! states a representative from Apple Visual Graphics
What’s most mind boggling about this situation is that the entire catalog is available free online and can be downloaded as iPad app.
The backlash over social media has been swift, with users tweeting responses such as @MarilynLThomas’s, which read “If I sit down with 3300 pages, there better be a scarfaced wizard or a lot of Jesus involved.”
Perhaps next year Restoration Hardware will think to only send a postcard directing potential customers to their online resources, instead of mailing out 17 pound, 3,000 page mammoths.