Retailers and educational establishments revealed as worst “junk mail offenders”

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Retailers and educational establishments revealed as worst “junk mail offenders”

Ricoh Europe, London, 16 March 2016 – Three quarters of branded communications sent by retailers and educational establishments across Europe are irrelevant, according to research commissioned by Ricoh Europe.

The survey asked consumers across 22 countries about the communications material they received from brands and service providers. The majority of respondents (76 per cent) said the material sent to them by retailers was irrelevant, while 75 per cent said the same about content from educational establishments such as schools, colleges and universities.

Ricoh Europe asked about the communications sent by organisations in seven different industries. The best performing, according to the survey, are financial services companies and public sector organisations, with 39 per cent and 42 per cent of respondents respectively saying these sectors’ communications are normally relevant to them. However, this means that there is no sector for which a majority of consumers feel communications are relevant.

    No.     Sectors ranked according to irrelevancy of communications
    1.     Retail
    2.     Education
    3.     Telecoms
    4.     Healthcare
    5.     Utilities
    6.     Financial services
    7.     Public sector

The deluge of junk and spam is making consumers mistrustful of how businesses handle their personal data. Retail was the industry least trusted with consumers’ data, with three-quarters of consumers (74 per cent) saying they don’t trust retailers. The sectors most trusted with consumers’ data were the public sector, financial services and healthcare, with around half of consumers trusting them (50 per cent 49 per cent and 48 per cent respectively). Perhaps not coincidentally, these are also sectors with rigorous regulations about how customer information is handled and used.

Significantly, the junk mail problem has a real impact on business’ bottom-lines. Nearly one-fifth of consumers (18 per cent) say they have taken their custom elsewhere after being spammed by irrelevant material from brands and service providers. Furthermore, 63 per cent of consumers say they would spend less with the offending business.

David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe, said: “Organisations need to wake up to their junk mail problem. At the moment they are overwhelming people with poorly targeted material that is eroding levels of trust, alienating potential customers and damaging their revenues. They need to realise that junk mail has a genuine, negative impact on their business.

“The poor performance of retailers and educational establishments in particular are a result, we believe, of their highly competitive markets right now. Retailers are battling against the impact of online shopping which is changing customer behaviour and pushing prices down, while educational establishments are increasingly competing for students in an era of reduced government funding. In response to these pressures they seem to be sending out more communications material to generate a short-term impact, but they need to be much more targeted to avoid damaging their long-term relationships.”

The inside view: what businesses and consumers across Europe say about branded communications:
  • “Personalisation is definitely the big key towards the future. We’ll need to look to new ways to approach customers, mostly through technology” – Head of Marketing, Retail, Netherlands
  • “I do feel annoyed, and it’s getting worse. I feel like I can’t escape it. It’s wherever you go. There’s always some sort of communication you don’t actually need” – Tina, consumer, Germany
  • “There are plenty of fish in the sea, plenty of choices in the market. So if you don’t provide what they (the customer) want then they will definitely go somewhere else.” – Head of eCommerce, Retail, UK

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Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in over 190 countries. In the financial year ending March 2015, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,231 billion yen (approx. 18.5 billion USD).
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