Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UPS Shows Brands What 'Brown Can Do' For Them

In a first for a package delivery company, United Parcel Service is giving away samples from major brands to its customers. The company is piloting a program in Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., in which people who get UPS' Direct-to-Door home delivery also get offers and samples from a roster of brands. It is expected to go nationwide in 2010.

The offers will be packaged in a custom-designed "UPS Direct-to-Door Pak" -- white with an image of a UPS delivery van -- and delivered to residents in the test ZIP codes who are receiving a small package shipment that day. Each Direct-to-Door Pak can contain approximately 12 offers and samples from UPS customers.

Brands participating in the program include Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath & Beyond, FTD.com, Pottery Barn, The Finish Line, Sephora, West Elm and Zappos.com.

A spokesperson for UPS tells Marketing Daily that about 12 brands are involved now. "We are asking brands to put in discrete offers you wouldn't get with other marketing channels," she says. Zappos.com, for instance, is giving recipients an invite to its VIP club, whose members get free shipping, among other perks.

The company is not promoting the program at this point, per the spokesperson. "Right now, there's no advertising in place, but we actually will be getting metrics from feedback and talking to customers. Like any pilot, we have to go through evaluation."

The samples will come in a separate, uniquely designed pack. The spokesperson says UPS developed the idea after doing focus-group research on direct-mail marketing that suggested people are too inundated with offers to notice them.

The focus group attendees said they would feel differently about it if a sample package were delivered by hand by a familiar person. "They trust a familiar face, the UPS driver, and they are more likely to accept something from them that's a surprise or gift."

"As marketing channels evolve and consumer choices increase, we need new touchpoints to connect with customers," said Pat Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Williams Sonoma, in a statement. "With a UPS Direct-to-Door delivery, we're reaching an active consumer, an important factor for increased response rates."

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