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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : April 15, 2015

Poll reveals Americans' attitudes to the contents of their mailbox

Despite the dominance of email and social networks, Americans continue to receive a wide variety of mail delivered to their home each day. But how do they react to various types of mail, including catalogs and advertising fliers? A Gallup poll has shed some light on current attitudes.

by Helen Leggatt

Unsurprisingly, Americans exhibit a wide range of reactions to a wide range of mail types. Of course, no-one likes to see bills in the mailbox and Gallup's poll of 1,010 Americans across the U.S. reflect this. Forty-four percent of respondents said their reaction to receiving a bill is 'very negative/negative' however 29% said their reaction is 'very positive/positive'.

The only mail items that invoke a more negative reaction are advertising cards and fliers. More than half (51%) said their reaction to receiving this type of mail is 'very negative/negative' and just 22% said their reaction is 'very positive/positive', with the remainder neutral.

However, catalogs fared better with 46% reacting very positively or positively to their arrival compared with 28% who reactive negatively. 'A letter from a business' just about beat bills in positivity (30% vs. 29%).

Of course, receiving mail from someone they know, along with birthday cards, holiday/greeting cards and packages are all items that invoked positive reactions.

The Gallup poll also analyzed attitudes to mail based on age.


According to Gallup, "These results have mixed implications for the quasi-governmental U.S. Postal Service. While Americans clearly like the thought of receiving personal mail, the actual sending of letters is declining rapidly. The fact that younger Americans are less likely than those older to look forward to receiving their mail each day also suggests the possibility of a dwindling overall interest in mail in the years ahead. As a result of these trends, the USPS has concluded that market-dominant products like first-class mail are becoming less impactful to their business, and has shifted its emphasis to packages. This shift finds support in the attitudes of the American public, who view receiving packages almost as positively as getting personal letters. Still, the deluge of electronic email, texting and social media updates most Americans receive on a daily basis today may mean that a "fresh" way of communicating -- like a personal letter or card -- may have increasingly unique value. Cultural practices often move in cycles, and it may be possible that Americans' strong emotional bonds to personal letters and cards means that this "old-fashioned" means of communication could have a renaissance, or at least not become extinct, in the years ahead".

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: consumer attitudes, mail, postal services

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