How Anti Junk Mail Initiatives and Proposed Green Industrial Revolutions Could Threaten Print Reach

 

A happy planet Earth.

The economic fallout following the coronavirus saw the UK economy shrink by 10% in 2020—the UK’s most significant annual decline in GDP for 300 years—and the worst in the G7.

Comparable GDP decline levels were experienced in other heavy-weight European nations, with France’s economy shrinking by 8.3% and Germany’s by 5% in 2020. GDP also fell by 3.5% in the US.

In the final quarter of 2020, the UK’s economy grew by 1%—narrowly avoiding a double-dip recession.

The Guardian reports that the UK's economic recovery was partly because of the easing of lockdown measures in the run-up to Christmas in November and December.

But analysts also found that the boost in GDP was because of restaurants operating take-aways—and the boom in online shopping—with businesses adapting their marketing efforts and working practices to capture the surge in online consumerism.

And as the UK begins to come out of the covid19 crisis, it will be turning much of its attention to economic recovery—and green growth.

Johnson’s post-pandemic plan indeed focuses on economic growth—but also “supercharging green growth.”

As part of world government economic recovery plans, green economic recovery is high up on the priority list for the UK and the EU and the US—which threatens the reach of printed publications across the globe.

European anti junk mail initiatives are a threat to the reach of printed publications

In what seems like a combination of European citizens who are frustrated by junk mail—many of whom are angry at the number of trees wasted—movements like STOP PUB in France have been gaining traction over the last decade.

At the hands of its campaigning efforts, STOP PUB boasts saving over 36 million trees since it began.

Launched in 2004 and backed by France’s Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, stoppub.fr has helped save more than 100,000 tonnes of flyers.

It has achieved this by distributing stickers, which French citizens have stuck onto their letterboxes to protect the environment and save trees.

Similarly, in The Netherlands, Amsterdam’s “Ja-Ja sticker,” which residents can stick onto their mailbox, conveniently allows them to opt-in (instead of opting-out) of receiving unaddressed mail.

Welcomed by many citizens in The Netherlands, other large municipalities have joined the initiative in efforts to combat the amount of junk mail recipients get—and to cut down on paper waste and energy.

In the UK and many other EU member states, greater access to the internet means more residents can easily opt-out of unaddressed mail by filling out a form on their national postal service’s website, with their local authority, or some other national body.

European movements like the Ja-Ja sticker and STOP PUB inevitably will limit the reach of retailers’ printed publications. And it’s possible that similar initiatives surrounding sustainability could start to gain traction in the UK and the US.

And as awareness of how businesses play such an important part in meeting sustainability (53% want brands to address environmental problems) goals, and the ease of which they can opt-out of junk mail coming through their letterboxes online—the number of people stopping flyers being pushed through their letterboxes can only increase—which calls for new and more modern ways of retailers reaching consumers.

The UK’s Build Back Better campaign to “level up” the country

What could be as much of a threat to the reach of printed publications are the major economic recovery plans for the UK.

And while in the UK there aren’t yet the kind of anti junk mail initiatives that exist in some European states, instead Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit / post-pandemic “Ten-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”—could spell the end of door-to-door flyers completely.

As part of the UK’s ambitious plan to “level up” the country with its “Build Back Better campaign”, and aim high for green growth, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“Our mission is to unleash the potential of our whole country and restore the energy and confidence of the Victorians themselves.”

And Johnson plans to achieve this with the Ten Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution—a highly ambitious directive, “Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero.”

The British Prime Minister goes on to say:

“The UK was the first major economy to embrace a legal obligation to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. I will establish Task Force Net Zero to take forward this national priority, and through next year’s COP26 Summit, we will urge countries and companies around the world to join us in delivering net zero globally.”

While we’re yet to see how Boris’s ambitious plans materialize, it’s very likely that in efforts to achieve carbon net zero, businesses in the UK—and the world—will have to play their part in achieving that target.

And this could mean cutting back on waste and making far more of an effort towards sustainable business practices—including switching to digital publications rather than the wasteful, more expensive, and carbon-unfriendly print ones.

Joe Biden’s Build Back Better campaign

The inauguration of Joe Biden earlier this year in January also brought with it ambitious pledges for clean energy and economic recovery:

“On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be nine years left to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate immediately and ambitiously because there’s no time to waste.“

As part of Biden’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, Biden plans to “hold polluters accountable” and pledged:

“On Day 1, Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. In his first year, he’ll work to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution.”

But again, politicians being politicians, and the rocky and fragmented political climate in the US, we’re yet to see how these big clean energy plans pan out. And green economic recovery plans also depend on reciprocity with other nations (as suggested by the UN).

What could Biden’s plans mean for big-name retailers?

If public companies have to disclose climate-related financial risks and greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains, retailers are likely to look to cut back on emissions where they can—which could mean making significant reductions in the amount they print—or stopping mailing out their publications completely.

And like in the UK, the US will likely be leaning heavily towards putting green economic growth recovery plans to the front of its current and future political campaigns—welcomed by British and American citizens alike.

Digital catalogs can compensate for the loss of reach

With the potential for anti junk mail initiatives to start in the UK and the US, spurred on by Boris’ and Biden’s Build Back Better initiatives, retailers should ready themselves for compensating for the significant loss of reach of their printed publications.

And how can switching to online-only digital catalogs help them prepare?

Firstly, retailers should ask those on their print mail list to opt-in for switching to email instead—and highlight how this empowers them to play their part in stopping climate change and wasting trees.

With an online-only digital catalog, eCommerce stores can embed digital catalogs into their online channels, such as email, and reach more customers this way—almost as if it was sent through to their letterbox.

By retailers emailing their digital catalogs out to people on their marketing lists instead, they can claw back loss of reach as a result of anti junk mail initiatives and green economic growth plans.

Be proactive and get ahead of your competitors.

Printing tonnes of flyers costs a lot more than distributing your digital catalog. You have to spend money on designers, printers, distribution, and fuel.

And these business practices are now outdated and out-of-touch with modern-day green enterprise movements.

By switching to a digital catalog, you can become a more efficient and sustainable retailer and reach far more shoppers than was ever possible with your print catalog.

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