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When Will the Postman Ring for the Last Time?

Niels Delater

Niels Delater

Sep 26, 2018

When Will the Postman Ring for the Last Time?
Niels Delater

Niels Delater

Sep 26, 2018

Is it possible that the world can exist without mailboxes and letters?

Spectos conducted a comprehensive survey in Germany to find the answer to this question.

This post was first published on ESOMAR RW CONNECT

As we move towards an inevitable future of condensed and quicker services in all industries, one thing that plays into the minds of many is the continued use of mailboxes and letters in general.

Especially now as major companies such as Facebook and Google have seen a large backlash from the public regarding the privacy and security breaches of user information. The platforms that these two juggernauts offer to the public seem to be not as private as many had thought. This gives weight to those who think that conventional mailboxes and letter mail are not totally dead.

Conversely, the convenience and speed of services is much appreciated by the newer generations who wholeheartedly embrace the modern technologies. However, along with the recent controversies involving data breaches and the introduction in Europe of GDPR, there are growing concerns among the public about digital security.

Spectos organized a comprehensive market research survey in 2018 to look at these issues in Germany – one of the largest users of letters and paper-based advertising markets. As part of this, participants were asked about their opinion on the postal world and the future of the mailbox.

An Icon of Security

Mailboxes are an icon in the world of mail delivery. The sending of an important letter or small package is for most people the usual method to send and receive communications. found that 75% of Germans utilize the mailbox to ship letters and postcards. This was only surpassed by the Netherlands with 91% users of mailboxes.

As many as 86% said that they care about having their mail delivered to their address via their mailbox. In addition, many participants emphasized their preference to receive advertising leaflets, daily newspapers and magazines in a physical format.

To Touch is to Experience

So where can a consumer go if there are no mailboxes left? Collection points and parcel stations could present good alternatives. However, there is a general disapproval of this idea.

Skepticism also comes into play when speaking about data security. Laws protect the confidentiality and privacy of letters. Emails, on the other hand, are often compared to unprotected postcards. Although in Germany the German Federal Data Protection Act is strictly adhered to, not everything is a safeguard against hacking.

For some, it is quite another thing to read a piece of information on a screen than to actually hold a sheet of paper directly in their hands. Comments such as “Screen reading is short-lived”, and “I like to read paper in my hands” reflect this. The classic postal services are a habit for which many cannot see another alternative.

New Ways to Use Old Tools

Companies are also seeing a rising stake in the mailbox. They recognize the potential of mailboxes for direct marketing. Case in point, offline advertising flyers can give interesting impulses for people to head online. Furthermore, the conventional mailbox does not require a recipient’s stated agreement to be delivered to. This provides unobstructed access to target groups. A growing list of companies is seeing the potential to spread marketing information in this manner. The mail is still even used to conduct market research via paper surveys.

But what about the future of the mailbox?

Only 6% see future developments in digitization of the postal world moving away from the familiar mailbox towards newer technologies and opportunities. The vast majority believe that letters are here to stay.

From Germany With Love

For many in Germany, a complete exclusion of the conventional mailbox is simply unthinkable. Reliability and safety (standards closely linked to the mailbox) are the most important communications criteria for the majority.

Would you like the complete results of the Spectos Mailbox Monitor?

If you would like access to the complete results of our Mailbox Monitor survey please send an email to with subject Spectos Mailbox Monitor.

*Source: Spectos Mailbox Monitor 2018. May 31, 2018. Number of respondents: 1.807


Form: Online survey
Content: demographic data (age, gender); 19 closed and 2 open questions
Dates: May 2018
Sample criteria: Users of mailboxes and postal services from Spectos panel; 1807 respondents