Mail Works

A rebirth in the value of mail during a global pandemic.

Thu Feb 18 17:34:00 EST 2021

Marketers are curious people. We have a natural ability to discover change and to harness fresh insights to add customer value in surprising ways. Yet despite our curiosity, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the U.S. one year ago, we weren’t predicting an impact of this potential pandemic on things like sales of jigsaw puzzles, home workout equipment, bread machines or – closer to home -- direct mail and online commerce.

This past year has dealt us a hand of cards for a game we didn’t know how to play. It has been difficult, lonely, and stressful, on the one hand, but also stimulating for Marketers. As I learned in research for the 100th Anniversary of Pitney Bowes, resilience and dedication lead to growth and opportunity. It is through adversity that we find new solutions and innovation if we seize the moment and observe like sociologists, standing back away from the crowd of emotion and information.

Pitney Bowes is in the business of commerce, a complex landscape of technology and logistics that applies postage and shipping labels and moves envelopes and boxes of all sizes from businesses to other businesses and consumers. COVID-19 has fueled accelerated change at our company.

And while you think the story of change is only about online commerce, there have been significant attitudinal and behavioral changes regarding mail over the past year.

Mail has increased its real and perceived value to consumers and businesses through the challenges of COVID-19. As a result, there is more respect for the essential role of mail and the USPS, and there is greater engagement with and value for mail, overall. Overall mail volumes declined in 2020, after leveling off post a two-decade decline, yet the Millennial generation -- raised as “digital natives” -- have a newfound appreciation for the written word and mail communications.

And so I am launching a new, regular series: “Mail Works.” A commentary, through the lens of Marketing, of how consumers have been impacted by the pandemic and the essential role mail and online commerce play in our lives and in business.