Aegis Group's Synovate Mail Monitor reported Friday that direct mail offers for credit cards dropped 27% in 2008--a figure that is similar to the 26% annual decrease that competitor Mintel Comperemedia told Marketing Daily it will report as early as today. Mintel had earlier (www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=98829) released results showing a 24% year-to-year drop through November.
But Mintel Comperemedia's estimate of more than 5 billion credit card offers for the year drew sharp criticism from Synovate, which itself estimated only 3.8 billion solicitations--down from 5.2 billion in 2007, and the lowest number of mailings it's reported since 2000.
Andrew Davidson, vice president of competitive tracking services for Synovate's Financial Services Group, told Marketing Daily that at the peak of credit card offers, Synovate had reported 6 billion mailings--a number he said would no longer "make sense in the current credit environment."
Mintel's Vice President of Financial Services, Stephen Clifford, pegged the 2008 figure at 5.4 billion mailings, including only 898 million in the fourth quarter--a 33% decline from the third quarter and a 50% drop year-to-year.
In a press release, Synovate said that Mintel's data "paints an inaccurate picture of mailboxes across the nation stuffed full with solicitations."
Synovate's research methodologies are more accurate, Davidson implied, noting that "we've been doing this for 20 years." Countering that Comperemedia has been conducting its research for 10 years, Clifford defended Mintel's methodology, saying its panel of households is "most robust" because the firm also measures eight other categories of mailings, including banks, and mortgage and loans. In addition, he said, "we've validated the accuracy of our projections with our clients by comparing them to their actual mailing volume."
Synovate, meanwhile, estimated that the average household received 4.6 credit card offers a month in 2008, down from 5.4 in 2007.
Chase continued to hold the top spot in Synovate's top 10 list, despite its number of mailings falling 32% for the year.
Synovate said that only two of the top 25 mailers increased their mail volume in 2008: US Bank (up 29%), which entered the top 10 list for the first time at #10, and Barclays (27%), which stayed at #8. Credit One, a subprime issuer, dropped off the list.
Card issuers, in addition to Chase, that cut back the most in 2008 were HSBC (61%), which fell from #4 to #8; Citibank (44%), which stayed at #6; and Bank of America (30%), which fell from #2 to #4.
The remaining top 10 credit card solicitors in 2008 were American Express, rising from #3 to #2; Capital One, moving from #5 to #3; Washington Mutual, rising from #7 to #5; and Discover, up one notch to #7.