Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On Postcodes - the corporate view

Winds has posted about something which is bizarrely dear to my heart: post codes and the lack thereof on the auld sod. Ok, they’re not really dear to my heart but let’s say I have a more than passing interest in them.

To my mind the only reason why anyone would seek to introduce these post codes to Ireland is for market intelligence and for territory planning of residential sales routes. In other words post codes will make it easier for marketing companies to break us all into easily analysed sub-sections of society.

In the old Ireland loose categories would suffice to get an overview of a market segment, and marketeers could make assumptions about, say, the Dublin 24 area as a whole, or rural Wexford as a whole, in terms of the demographic overview, the purchasing means of the majority of households in the area etc.

Now, however, with the post Celtic tiger property boom these old segments don’t work efficiently for direct sales into the residential market.

For instance, no longer does a street in Dublin 8 signify a particular income bracket. Prestige and traditional housing are jumbled together in a category defying way. It is not easy to target sales to particular areas with this “mess” simply because it is not easy to analyse the mix of data in any sensible way.
To compound the marketeers’ problems there is the peculiarly Irish phenomenon of Vanity Addressing, whereby potential customers fill in forms by saying, for example, that they live in Firhouse, Dublin 16, when Firhouse is actually in Dublin 24.

Postcodes will make it logistically easier for the likes of UPS to schedule deliveries and should speed up the mail delivery process – apparently only 70% of Irish internal mail gets delivered the next day at present. However post coding will also make it easier for the likes of the telecom companies out there (there are about 100) to break us all up into easily scheduled calls.

An Post, who have spent millions GIS tagging every premises in the country to make their own deliveries more efficient, have said that post codes allow for increasing the volume of mail delivered (and therefore revenue), and allow for a deregulated market in the postal services sector. As if they really want that.
The fact remains that whichever company that is chosen to run the introduction of post codes will end up buying this information from An Post at a huge cost. Deregulation is coming one way or the other and they may as well make some money out of it.

ComReg advocates the introduction of post codes, despite the fact that ComReg is supposed to have the consumers’ interests to the fore. All I can see are benefits for the Telecoms and similar companies who will then have an easily locatable source of sales leads (i.e. us) to harass over the phone and at the door. Something they are achieving quite admirably as it is.

Software companies specialising in off the shelf CRM software, logistics software, and data analysis software will make a packet in the rush to leverage as much cost saving benefit as possible.

This will be good for the consumer in the short term and the cost savings should, in theory, be passed down the value chain, but in the long term they will know a hell of a lot more about us than they do currently. We will receive more junk mail and have to battle more “market research” questionnaires on our way in our front doors. This was picked up by the Carlow Nationalist and the marketing benefits are stated directly by An Post on their Geo Directory website:

As Ireland's only complete buildings database, GeoDirectory has a range of applications of use to practically every business. The standardised address features included in GeoDirectory facilitate a number of direct and database marketing applications - including address capture, validation, matching and cleaning. The location data can facilitate sales planning, penetration analysis, routing solutions, proximity analysis and risk analysis.

A look at this page tells one quickly just who is set to benefit…

As a citizen I certainly don’t want to see the introduction of postcodes.
As a corporate whore with a job to do...bring ‘em on. It would free up my time during the day to write more blogs!


Anonymous Damien Mulley said...

"despite the fact that ComReg is supposed to have the consumers’ interests to the fore."

Uhm, then why do we have the highest landline rental in the EU, €8 a month more than the EU avg, the 4th highest landline phone bills in the EU and the highest mobile phone bills in the EU, €17 more than the EU avg.

They have a charter yes, and consumer issues are mentioned but they have interpreted it in such a way as to believe that a few token websites are enough for consumers.

As for Postcodes, I welcome them. Maybe it might just speed up the week and a half it takes letters to get delivered from Mallow to my office in Cork. It might give marketing people more options to spam us but I would think in the next while a new anti-spam law for mail will come into being.

10 January, 2006 15:29  
Anonymous Winds said...

"I would think in the next while a new anti-spam law for mail will come into being."

I have to say that's almost hopelessly optimistic of you...from what I can see, you can only [try to] opt out of cold calling so I'd love to see how easy it might be to opt out of postal unsolicited advertising junk. Try to control it in any way and the direct marketers will go through the roof. It's hard to go ex-directory on your postal address.

10 January, 2006 16:02  

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