"Faced by the unprecedented challenges of a weak housing market, the credit crunch, a global recession and declining consumer confidence, financial institutions cut back on direct marketing," declares Stephen Clifford, Mintel Comperemedia's vice president of financial services.
Through November, the research firm estimated that financial services companies sent out 10.3 billion mailings seeking new customers--down 26% compared with 13.9 billion mailings during the same 11 months in 2007.
Clifford told Marketing Daily that Chase was the category's top mailer during the period, but the number of its mailings dropped 23%. Other financial services companies in the top five were Bank of America, down 12%, Capital One (off 13%), American Express (-3%) and Citibank, whose mailings dipped a huge 39%.
Focusing in on September, October and November, when the country's financial crisis intensified, Clifford reported a "sharper decline overall." During those months, the decrease in new customer mailings compared with 2007 soared to 37%. Citibank dropped 61%, Chase 55%, Bank of America 49%, American Express 21% and Capital One 18%.
For the year, credit card and mortgage and loan offers accounted for 86% of all direct mail offers tracked by Mintel. And while the entire financial services industry fell 26% from January to November, mortgage and loan mailings alone dropped 37%, and credit card offers 24%. "In the face of increasing losses," said Clifford, they recognized the need to tailor their target audience better."
The remaining 14% of industry mailings came from investment firms, down 5%, and banks--whose pursuit of new deposits in the form of checking, savings, CD and money market accounts actually resulted in a 5% increase. Even during the final three months tracked, the increase from 2007 held up, at 2%.
During this period, moreover, Clifford revealed, a "significant increase" by banks in an area not covered by this particular study, but of particular interest in a time of consumer anxiety--banks, he said, increased the number of mailings in support of customer loyalty and retention by a whopping 85%.