Automakers turn to direct-mail marketing to sell new cars in Germany

Hamburg. In the first eight months of this year, 930 advertisers spent 1.1 billion euros, or about $1.32 billion at current exchange rates, to reach potential automotive customers in Germany.

That is 0.8 percent more than during the same time period last year, Hamburg-based Nielsen Media Research said in its Direct Mail study.

The advertisers -- automakers, dealers and banks -- spend the majority of their budgets on traditional media.

But a number of them are turning to direct marketing, said Dirk Reinbothe, who is in charge of direct-response advertising at Nielsen.

"Direct mail is increasing in importance, since more and more companies in Germany employ this medium for their communication measures," Reinbothe said.

One of the advantages is direct customer contact.

Auto industry second biggest advertisers

Besides traditional advertising such as TV and radio spots, print ads and billboards, the firm looked at gross spending for direct marketing, Internet and movie advertising.

"After retail, the auto market is the second-biggest advertising sector in Germany, and holds 7.8 percent of the entire advertising market," said Reinbothe.

Advertisers spent the greatest amount on TV spots. The TV spend is 366 million euros, or about $438.9 million. That is followed by 331 million euros, or $397 million, on daily newspaper ads and 201 million euros, or $241 million, for general-circulation magazines.

During the same period, 22.5 million euros, or $26.9 million, went for direct marketing; 20 million euros, or $23.9 million, was spent on Internet advertising; and 4 million euros, or $4.8 million was spent on movie advertising.

A total of 78 of the 879 companies using traditional advertising turned to additional direct marketing to acquaint customers with their products and services. They used letters, postcards, flyers and brochures.

New-car direct mail ads

The study, which focused on direct marketing, found that 125 advertisers use direct mail in their communications, with 37 percent using it exclusively.

In addition, for the first eight months of the year, Nielsen calculates 14.1 million euros, or $16.9 million, were spent on direct marketing for new cars. That represented 62.7 percent of the direct mail activity in the auto industry.

A total of 15.5 percent was spent on corporate and image advertising, and 11.7 percent on ads for vehicle services.

In all, during this period, 109 million direct-mail pieces were sent out promoting new vehicles.

Some 59 percent of these mail pieces were brochures, 21.9 percent letters and 19 percent flyers.

For the first eight months of 2005, the average German household got three direct-mail pieces from the auto industry.

The study also showed that 60.4 percent of all mail pieces were actually read.

About 15.5 percent of addressees found the communications "of interest," and 1.2 percent said they planned to respond to them.

In the new German states, the mail pieces found less favor than in western Germany.

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