New data from Mintel Comperemedia, an industry-leading service for direct marketing competitive intelligence, shows only 5.4 billion credit card direct mail offers were sent to Americans in 2008. This is the lowest annual total the firm has reported since 2000.
In response to 2008’s severe economic challenges, most credit card issuers altered direct marketing strategy significantly, causing new card mail volume to fall 26% from 2007. Mintel Comperemedia estimates 2007 mail volume at 7.4 billion. In 2006, it was 8.3 billion.
“With reduced funds available for lending and increased loan losses, credit card issuers had no choice but to drastically cut direct marketing for new cards during 2008,” states Stephen Clifford, VP of Financial Services at Mintel Comperemedia.
The number of mail offers sent for new credit cards dropped steadily throughout 2008. Mintel Comperemedia reports an 8% decline from Q1-Q2 and a 13% decline from Q2-Q3. But Q4 2008 stands out with the most notable quarterly drop: 33% from Q3 2008.
While estimated direct mail volume for credit card acquisition fell across the board in 2008, individuals with the highest incomes barely saw a change in their mailboxes. Mintel Comperemedia reports that households making over $100,000 a year received only 1% fewer credit card offers in 2008 than in 2007. But households making $50,000 or less saw a 42% drop in new credit card mail volume.
“Credit card issuers shifted direct marketing strategy to focus on higher earning, lower risk consumers,” states Stephen Clifford. “2008 was an adjustment year for the credit card industry as issuers were confronted with economic conditions not seen in decades. In 2009, I expect less volatile fluctuations in mail volume as the industry positions itself to ride out the recession and recover.”

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