Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pricing Innovation at the Post Office

I rarely expect marketing innovation from the US Postal Service, but I think that their "Forever Stamp" idea is a winner. (And yes, it's marketing - remember your Four Ps!)

Postal officials pitched the idea of creating a "forever stamp" that would be good for sending first-class mail no matter how much -- or how often -- the cost of a postage stamp goes up. The announcement came on the same day that the Postal Service said it would seek to raise the price of a first-class stamp for the second consecutive year.

The forever stamp, which would cost the same as a first-class stamp, would provide a hedge against future postal rate increases and end the search for 2- or 3-cent stamps that usually follows a price increase. The stamps could pose unusual challenges for the Postal Service, however, and officials say many details still have to be worked out.

No more 2 and 3 cent stamps! That's a great thing.

The risk, of course, is that people will stock up on the new stamps to avoid paying more in the future. I think it's a small risk. For most of us, the hassle of a postal rate increase isn't the money - sending a piece of first-class mail remains an incredible bargain - it's suddenly finding that your stamps are now useless  without the annoyance of getting smaller stamps to make up the difference for the new rate.

If you're like me, you don't send much by mail anymore. Bills are paid online (in fact, I don't even get paper bills from most of my utilities and such), most correspondence goes via email, and stamps are these things that sit in the drawer for those times you actually have to use postal mail. I certainly can't see buying more than 20 or so at a time - that's about a one-year supply (not counting Christmas cards), and I'd probably lose them in the back of a drawer before I actually used them.

1 comment:

Mary Schmidt said...

And, don't we all have various lonely-only stamps stuck in the back corner of drawers? (I'd bet there are literally billions of dollars wasted like this.)

I also like the idea of personalized stamps - and one of these days, I'm going to take the time and get some, complete with my snazzy logo. The Postal Service is trying - and despite all their problems - they somehow deliver pretty good service too.