Names (and Prices) They Are a-Changin Image

At one time, it was called Third-Class Mail. Today, it's known as Standard Mail. In 2017, it will be called (USPS) Marketing Mail. The U.S. Postal Service has proposed a name change for Standard Mail to better signal to customers that this mail is used primarily to market a product or service.

This rebranding to Marketing Mail is part of the recent rate filing the USPS made with the Postal Regulatory Commission to change prices, including a 2-cent increase in the price of a stamp, returning it to 49 cents. If you remember, back in April, the Postal Service rolled back the stamp price to 47 cents. Those rollbacks end on January 22, 2017, when the new rates are slated to take effect.

Some might remember that a few years ago, the Postal Service changed the name of one of its oldest products, Parcel Post, to Standard Post. Now that Standard Mail is getting a new name, what happens to Standard Post? Well, Standard Post will become USPS Retail Ground, as spelled out in a separate rate filing – this one for price changes to competitive products, such as Priority Mail and Parcel Select. Those prices are also scheduled to take effect on January 22, 2017.

By law, the Postal Service can raise prices annually on its market-dominant products – such as First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail – as long as the price increase for each class of mail does not exceed an inflation-based cap. This year, the cap is about 1 percent. So, while the stamp price in First-Class Mail will go up 2 cents, other products in that class, such as the international stamp and Postcards, will stay the same ($1.15 and 34 cents respectively) to keep the overall class within the 1 percent cap.

On its competitive products, the Postal Service is not constrained by the price cap and can raise prices as much as the market will bear. In this case, the USPS seeks to raise prices on Shipping Services almost 4 percent on average, roughly equivalent to the increases that UPS and FedEx have announced for 2017.

What do you think of changing the name of Standard Mail to Marketing Mail? Do you think it will help customers better understand what this product is and how it can be used as part of their marketing strategies? Are there other products that might benefit from a name change to better signal their purposes? 

Comments (8)

  • anon

    How do we stop marketing mail? Also known as junk mail?

    Nov 20, 2017
  • anon

    You know, it offends me that I have to pay $0.47 to mail a birthday card, but when I open my mailbox its filled with all this "Marketing mail." Perhaps if you charged the Junk Mail people more and customers less, you'd have better luck. All I do with the junk mail is toss it in the recycling bins on my way back into the house. Charge THEM more!!! And give us an "opt out of junk mail" discount! Thanks.

    Dec 02, 2016
  • anon

    Marketing mail is a good name. With the randomness of post office delivery any mail must be considered spam advertising. This is due to the lack of reliable service from the USPS. That should be renamed: USPAA United States Postal Abusive Authority

    Nov 03, 2016
  • anon

    How about just delivering the mail? Instead of renaming and marketing manure... Just deliver the mail in a timely manner. And provide legitimate redress of problems

    Nov 01, 2016
  • anon

    Most of Click2Mail's thousands of small business clients use First-Class Mail for their direct mail marketing. Typically, someone who has not studied mail classification doesn't know anything about what differentiates Standard from First-Class other than price and the speed/predictability of delivery. For a small business both are important factors but it's likely that speed and predictability have much greater value for tactical marketing to existing customers, thus these SMBs develop an informed preference for FCM marketing. We encourage our clients to use First-Class Mail and variable digital printing to precisely target prospective customers with just-in-time, personalized marketing messages. It is likely that identifying Standard Mail as Marketing Mail will imply to the layperson that this class of mail has some inherent advantage as a marketing tool compared to other types of mail. While this may have had an economic justification in the days of impersonal, "spray-and-pray" direct mail campaigns, it is far from a consensus opinion in today's modern marketing world of timing, targeting and precise personalization. Unless EDDM is the only kind of marketing mail the USPS expects small businesses to adopt, I would suggest that this name change is counterproductive because it will cause many SMBs to express a branding-driven, albeit technically uninformed, preference for a specialized marketing tool with a somewhat misleading name - and a lower contribution. Then, when this purpose-built Marketing Mail takes 7-21 days to be delivered, novice SMB users will become more likely to seek alternatives to postal mail for their marketing. My vote would be for Standard Mail to be called "Non-priority Mail", not with any pejorative or negative connotations in mind, but simply to fully disclose its operational identity in the USPS and truthfully specify its likely service level. Ideally, at some point an open and forward-looking classification reform discussion will help everyone understand what a from-the-ground-up design for "USPS Marketing Mail" could actually look like in the 21st century.

    Oct 31, 2016
  • anon

    I think the full name is "USPS Marketing Mail." So we will need to refer to Carrier Route USPS Marketing Mail? Long names. ECR is not used now, at least officially, but it is a category that includes Carrier Route, High Density, High Density Plus, and Saturation, letters and flats and parcels, commercial and nonprofit. Do we have a name for non-ECR? "Regular" has been used but it is usually unclear whether it refers to commercial and nonprofit or just to commercial. Also, I think due to me introducing it, the term "commercial" is now widely used, but I don't think it is the official name of anything.

    Oct 31, 2016
  • anon

    Hi Robert. Thanks for pointing out the correct full name that USPS has proposed. We have noted it accordingly in the text now.

    Nov 02, 2016
  • anon

    i have something very important is coming to me by USPS

    Oct 31, 2016

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