New study shows consumers react negatively to irrelevant brand promotions

Beware the irrelevant promotional email or random mass-produced mailing as you may risk pushing consumers away from your brand forever. According to a new study, 46 percent of consumers say they defected from a brand because the messages they were being sent were irrelevant to them.

Beware the irrelevant promotional email or random mass-produced mailing as you may risk pushing consumers away from your brand forever. According to a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer Council ( and InfoPrint Solutions Company (, of the 91 percent of consumers who choose to opt out of or unsubscribe from marketing emails, 46 percent say they defected from the brand because the messages they were being sent were irrelevant to them.

Consider these other two key points from the survey:

  • While 64 percent of consumers say promotional offers dominate both the email and traditional mail they receive, only 41 percent view these as must-read communications.

  • 41 percent of consumers say they would consider ending a brand relationship due to irrelevant promotions, and an additional 22 percent say they would definitely defect from the brand.

While marketing professionals continue to debate over the individual merits and weaknesses of email, mail, print and social media applications for effectively promoting a brand, consumers are proving they are less worried about the medium and more concerned about the level of individualization and understanding of their needs and relationship with the brand.

Other takeaways from the survey results:

Nearly three-quarters of consumers have received promotions for products they have previously purchased from the company.

  • 73 percent of consumers would be open to receiving print statements if mailed materials were recyclable or part of a sustainability program.

  • Nine of 10 consumers open monthly bills delivered via traditional mail, compared to 72 percent who open bills delivered via email.

  • When given the opportunity to choose, 51 percent of consumers prefer to receive product or service promotions via traditional mail, while 44 percent prefer email.

  • Only 6 percent of consumers feel that the promotions received through loyalty club communications were based on preferences or past purchasing behavior.

  • 30 percent of consumers say they are inspired to do business with a company after receiving personalized communication.

Factor in a select number of data points from other recent and relevant reports and the message starts to become very clear -- know your consumer and communicate with them on a selective, targeted and personal level, or risk their scorn.

  • According to CMO, traditional junk mail accounts for more than 100 billion pieces of mail each year, and 44 percent of this unsolicited, primarily promotional mail, ends up in a landfill unopened.

  • According to an April 2009 report from Microsoft, of the more than 200 billion email messages sent each day, 97 percent sent is actually spam.
  • In a 2009 security report, Cisco ( reports customized spam that is based on personal information stolen from the web has quadrupled.
  • Epsilon ( reports that the average email open rate across 16 industries during the second quarter in 2009 was 22.2 percent and this rate has increased for the fourth consecutive quarter.
  • Just because someone has opted in does not mean they are getting your communications. According to ReturnPath (, about 3.3 percent of opt-in emails for subscribers in the United States and Canada were sent to junk or bulk email bins, while 17.4 percent did not get delivered at all in the last year. ReturnPath also reported that in five years, the average individual will receive 25 emails a day, double the current 10 to 12 email average reported.
  • Forrester recently reported that by 2014, email marketing spend by brands will rise to $2 billion -- almost double the projected spend of $1.2 billion for 2009.

To download the full report, “Irrelevant Communications Contributes To Customer Defection And Alienation,” click here.

--Michael Hodgson



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