As we’ve discussed previously at SpeakingDIRECT, direct mail is both an effective and environmentally sustainable marketing channel. A new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by Toluna Inc. shows that a majority of Americans want to retain a choice for paper options rather than be forced into digital-only communications. The survey also addressed consumer opinions on the environmental impacts of digital vs. paper-based communications.
When it comes to receiving paper bills and statements, more than three-quarters (79%) of respondents prefer printed documents as they provide a more permanent record and would be unhappy (77%) if they had to pay a premium for paper.
Many respondents questioned the “go paperless – go green” claims used by numerous companies to steer clients away from paper communications. 57% mistrust the validity of the claim, and 85% believe companies use these environmental claims as a cost-saving opportunity.
There’s More Work To Do For Advocates of Sustainable Marketing
Survey results also indicate that environmental acceptance of print and paper is improving, but the graphic communications and forest products industries have more work to do to communicate their commitment to sustainable marketing, sound forest practices and recycling. 91% of respondents agreed that, when responsibly produced, used and recycled, print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate. When forests are responsibly managed, 88% concur it is environmentally acceptable to use trees to produce materials such as wood for construction and paper for printing. In addition, 56% saw paper records as more environmentally sustainable than electronic storage of information.
Consumers responding to this survey consistently underestimated forest growth in the U.S. and the amount of paper products recycled in the country each year. While 55% of respondents believed that U.S. forests have decreased in size, our forests have actually increased by 58% in wood volume and 3% in area over the last 60 years. Respondents also greatly misjudged the amount of paper recovered for recycling. Although 70% thought that less than 50% of paper products were recycled, the current U.S. recycling rate is 66.8%, which is higher than rates for other products such as glass, plastic and metals.
At IWCO Direct, we are fierce advocates for the effectiveness of direct mail as part of an integrated marketing campaign, and we work tirelessly to make our products as environmentally sustainable as possible. We’re encouraged to see that Americans continue to value paper-based communications of all types, and can see through the false environmental claims that going paperless saves trees. We’ll continue to work to demonstrate that print and paper-based communications are sustainable marketing channels in addition to sharing stories from our own sustainability journey.
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