TLC’s 2021 door drop review


Throughout 2021, LinkedIn was awash with commentaries, opinions and discussions about the Covid effects on marketing in general.

Was it possible to identify who were the winners and losers in terms of the myriad of media options available to advertisers, seeking engagement with customers and prospects?

How many advertisers needed to change tactics with a stay at home audience responding to different channels? And how many reduced or even ceased any spend on marketing during difficult periods of the year?

As a nationwide door drop specialist with a wide range of clients across all business sectors, our experience was probably similar to many others. Some clients, predominantly retail and leisure, simply withdrew from activity.

Home delivery companies and the public sector as just two examples, increased their usage of the medium and many new users entered the market enticed by the thought of their door drop leaflets demanding engagement.

So when it came to preparing our annual internal snapshot of the door drop market in 2021, we were interested in what the data would reveal.

The DMA 2020 statistics suggested a weekly household receipt average of just 1.9 items per week, whereas our statistics generated an average of just over 3, continuing the long term trend of suggesting the medium is larger than the industry report always suggests.

It would not be unreasonable later this year, to discover the official 2021 statistics at best possibly showing the medium as standing still, but quite probably I believe reclining still further.

So, with the calculations complete, I was pleasingly surprised to discover an increase in the weekly receipt of 3.7 items during 2021.

What I never expected however was the significant reduction in Royal Mail door to door’s market share in comparison to the local team and walker operations, just 14% versus 86%; a huge swing.

Across the market, retail remains the largest user (despite many suffering Covid issues) with 35.4% of the market. Charities, last year wholly the clothes collection bags which arrive pretty much every week with 28.6% share were next, closely followed by local businesses with 26.9%. The remaining 9% of items pretty much equally split between direct response, political and public sector leaflets.

There are numerous reasons why the change in the final mile distribution services split for leaflets will have occurred.

A quick glance at Royal Mail items delivered in 2020, identified quite a few clients whose activity would have been curtailed by Covid restrictions, though there were others surprisingly missing.

Our experience of the local market often highlights the need for the “immediate” distribution of leaflets, where a client has already printed before they place their enquiry, making Royal Mail’s 3 week booking lead time unworkable.

That market commonly works to a requirement to distribute to the “nearest” households from a central point/s, often making postal sector geography redundant to some degree.

And local suppliers tend to have more accessible delivery points for bulk supplies, or may even collect them.

Plus of course the enticement of a shared distribution charge.

Larger regional and national clients are still far more likely to utilise the undoubted skills and attributes of Royal Mail D2D and rightly so. They remain our supplier of choice for large elements of our clients’ activity, but it’s an interesting to see what adversity brought in 2021.

Even some of our existing and new public sector clients switched or chose to use teams, because their Covid influenced activity was completed at ward level rather than postal sector level.

So in summary and absolutely in line with our own experience at TLC, the marketplace overall performed well and should look forward to 2022 with confidence.

In our view, leaflet distribution in the first 2 weeks of 2022 has already seen the 2021 weekly average DOUBLE, so a promising start!

Graham Dodd, CEO