Royal Mail: When touch makes a difference

Simon Shaw and Matt Bright
Brass Insight and Royal Mail


Brass and Royal Mail conducted a controlled experiment to examine the medium of direct mail.

Our hypothesis was that the physical production of direct mail shapes how people feel about the message being communicated. Physical effects – like weight, foiling or die-cutting – change how people react to the message itself. We wanted to educate the top 3000 UK advertisers about the unique properties of mail in an increasingly digital world.

The project went beyond "ask – answer" research: observation, laboratory biometric/neuroscientific research and self-completion surveys were triangulated in order to test our hypothesis.

To isolate the effect of tangibility bespoke stimulus was created:

  • Five "fake brands" were produced;
  • Copy was created for each;
  • Five progressively more tangible versions of a direct mailpiece were created for each brand.