Mail matters… honest

Alas, the package that arrived for me yesterday wasn’t a new book or PS3 game as my wife had suggested in the car on the way home. It was the first (post pilot) edition of Matter instead. After the initial disappointment had subsided (Mirror’s Edge has just been completed you see) I set about having a little look.


Matter, if you’ve not heard of it, is a Royal Mail product designed to make direct mail a bit more appealing. Essentially it’s a collection of advertiser freebies sent together to a user-registered mailing list.

Says the Royal Mail:

“Matter is a collection of interesting/amusing/unusual/useful objects created by a handful of companies. The objects are gathered together in a distinctive box and delivered to your home on a Saturday morning. Uniquely, Matter controls what goes in the box, working with the companies to make sure the items are worth paying attention for. They aren’t allowed to stick any old rubbish in the box”

Hmmm. We’ll see about that.

Aside from two minor fails – it’s absolutely positively supposed to arrive on a Saturday  morning to coincide with our fabled ‘leisure time’ (it arrived on a less than leisure-driven Monday) and you’re supposed to get an email heralding its arrival (I didn’t) – it’s actually not as terrible as it could be. We got a DVD from Diageo, a chocolate bar  from Cadbury, a sim pack from O2, an excerpt of a book that looks a bit rubbish (in fairness that opinion’s based entirely on the title and the cover), some Source shower gel and a few other odds and sods. Douglas Jnr seemed quite interested in it all at least.


It’s all OK I suppose. It’s nice getting fun stuff through the post. It reduces the capital cost of sampling physical products/samples through the post for advertisers. It contemporises Royal Mail (a little bit). And the idea of ‘physical in a digital world’ is, if I do say so myself, quite a nice positioning (disclaimer: I worked very closely on the origination of this idea a couple of years ago). I guess the whole thing ultimately rests on the quality of the stuff that’s included. I’d rate this little lot at about 6/10. Alright, but could be better…

I’d also be interested to see how they plan to measure its success. I suspect Royal Mail are pitching this largely as a combo brand/response vehicle and, depending on the sample, it probably fits somewhere between the two. Let’s see what happens.


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7 Responses to “Mail matters… honest”

  1. Warren @ Matter Says:

    Thanks for the mention.

    As this is the first box, its really a shot in the dark. What we hear back from recipients this time will heavily influence what goes into the next box.

    If you’ve got time, log into the website and let us know what you thought in a bit more detail for next time.

    Thanks again,
    Warren @ Matter

  2. doug Says:

    Hi Warren

    Thanks for popping by and good work on checking what people are saying about Matter!

    6/10 ain’t bad for a first attempt…!

    Will go on to the site and leave a few more comments

    Thanks, Doug

  3. Paul Gage Says:

    hi graeme,

    good to see you’re keeping up the interest in RM!

    matter in theory is an excellent way of getting the brand in the hand and it’s nice to see RM innovate.

    it’s interesting though, after years of focusing and selling on the unique personalised targeting of direct mail, matter is bought using the standard demographics used in TV buying – the idea being that it makes it easier for media planners / buyers to get their heads around ‘AB Men’ or the like as an audience and recommend it to their clients.

    but of course, this means that i might have loads of wastage. wastage is acceptable on low cost channels like telly, but can i really afford it when sending out samples and leaftets? and that’s without considering the environmental impact.

    Will i accept having to have the same targeting and distribution as another brand? Will the most glamourous or the highest value brand get the final sign off on the mailing list? can i apply my own segmentation or consumer insight to the campaign?

    All questions that need to be considered for the evolution of the matter product. but i look forward to seeing how it develops.

    (and it’s good to see you’re targeted as an AB man!)

  4. FishNChimps Says:

    Never mind all that, just look at that happy little fella!

  5. Simon Kendrick Says:

    I had a similar response to you (once I finally received it). The products were a bit meh – certainly inferior to the pilot. If it going to be successful, the delivery success rate needs to be better than it currently is

  6. Dan Thornton Says:

    I was intrigued enough to go and have a look – not sure the sign-up questionnaire works particularly well. My favourite question asked me which form of advertising I’d choose if I could only have one!

    And there was no option for none, but I’ll happily engage and interact with brands that are interesting.

  7. The Joy of Post « Chutzpah Says:

    […] None of the samples in the last one really took my fancy – but a lot of people out there to have relatively positive things to say about […]

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