The Pressure Is On Mailers
While traditional mailers are not obsolete, pressure seal continues to set the pace in the self-mailer market
WITH THE RISE in the popularity of pressure-seal mailers, conventional mailers have taken a hit, but they are a long way from being obsolete.
"We have seen some erosion in the market for traditional mailers, due to the increased installation of non-impact printers, but heavy demand for the product still remains," said Deanna Day, senior brand manager at Montrose, Alabama-based PrintXcel, A Quality Park Brand. "Customers who have not made a software or hardware transition still depend on these products and their utility."
In regard to traditional mailers, David Yost, general manager at Roanoke, Virginia-based InfoSeal, noted that the multi-part, Quick Mailer product is the industry's most popular. He agreed that while pressure seal is replacing some traditional mailer products, Quick Mailers remain a force to be reckoned with, especially in direct mail. "Distributors can find the most opportunities for conventional mailers in direct mail," he said. "All of our new orders for Quick Mailers have been in this area."
Dan Hopkins, national sales manager at InfoSeal, echoed Yost's sentiments. "Traditional mailers are far from being extinct because they continue to do very well in direct mail applications," he said. "Direct mail is probably the largest single component of the traditional mailer market today."
Seal in the Profits
The rise in laser printers has propelled pressure seal to the forefront of the forms industry. Much like its traditional counterparts, pressure seal has made a name for itself in direct mail. "Our pressure seal business continues to grow as customers who enjoy the utility of a self-mailer make the transition to non-impact technology," said Day.
"Pressure seal is our biggest seller, thereby making up the majority of our product line," Yost said. "We continue to experience higher growth with this product than with any of our other product lines. There is more opportunity, as far as volume, in direct mail than in any other area." He noted that direct mail orders tend to be much larger than transactional applications for pressure seal, such as payroll, which may yield approximately 20,000 documents per cycle, compared to a 250,000 piece direct- mail application per month.
On the other hand, Hopkins said that while direct mail represents the largest potential growth market for pressure seal, it is not the product's only application. "Pressure seal is also used for payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable purposes," he explained. "Many of the roles formerly played by traditional mailers have now been transferred to pressure seal."
The uses for self-mailers run the gamut from jury duty summons and college fundraiser announcements, to identification and membership cards. Day said that PrintXcel's new MediaMailer was developed to meet the specific needs of two of its distributors. "The product is constructed much like a mailer, but unlike a mailer, it is not run through a printer," she explained. "Most often, the product is hand-addressed or labeled and is typically used as a two-way product."
When asked about the potential profits that the self-mailer market offers, Hopkins stated, "Because pressure-seal orders are generally larger than most orders, there are large profits to be made, and, when paired with value-added products, there can be even larger-margin orders."
Day noted that self-mailers are still very profitable for distributors who can provide value to the end-user. "This includes gaining knowledge of the client's needs, printer considerations and postal regulations," she said.
Speaking of postal regulations, Hopkins said that it can be very challenging to keep up with the automation requirements that are frequently issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS). "Because the postal regulations change often, it becomes challenging to keep up with the new technology," he explained. Day agreed. "After many years of manufacturing mailers, one of our biggest challenges is currently found in reading through all of the new USPS postal regulations each time that another domestic mail manual is released," she said.
What can distributors do to remain competitive in the mailer market? "The key to distributors remaining successful in the mailer market is to approach the sale as a mailing solution," Day suggested. "For example, when the end-user decides to transition his or her software or hardware, the successful distributor will provide guidance in exploring alternative solutions that will meet the future needs of the client."
However, Hopkins said that the challenge for distributors is not to remain competitive, but to become more knowledgeable of the pressure seal product. "Remaining competitive implies that pressure seal is a cyclical product that is in decline, and that is not the case," he said. "The successful distributor will be able to take advantage of the growth in this product area."
Yost noted that in order for distributors to remain profitable in the self-mailer market, InfoSeal has developed a number of value-added products, including its PinSeal product. "Value-added products allow distributors to retain even higher margins because they bring more value to the end-user," he said.
To help distributors attain higher margins, the suppliers offered selling advice. Hopkins said that it is necessary for distributors to become acquainted with the full scope of the self-mailer market. "In order to be successful, distributors must understand the paper products, including the equipment that is used to fold and seal the paper, and have knowledge of the printers that are being used," he said.
Hopkins noted that InfoSeal offers a variety of resources for distributors, including industry-wide training and educational programs on an individual distributor level, sales meetings and seminars, and joint sales calls with distributors and their customers. Day said that PrintXcel offers similar resources, including an end-user Web site with an online demonstration, product templates, and cost justification models designed to assist potential users of pressure seal.
Looking ahead, Hopkins said that the future is bright for the self-mailer market. "It is critical to emphasize that while most traditional forms products are in a decline, self-mailers are on the rise," he said. "It is a fast-growing area with lots of potential growth. Distributors who stay abreast of the latest applications and technologies will benefit."
By Cynthia T. Graham