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Customers and Communities : What's in the Mail for You!

What's in the Mail for You!

[This exhibit is no longer on view at the National Postal Museum]

Three exhibit cases labeled L.L. Bean, Tiffany & Co., and W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

Children at computer terminals watch as a series of photographs appearing on a large screen

Mail-order blossomed in the last decades of the 19th century under the dominance of two giant rivals, Sears Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward. Today thousands of mail-order companies market products around the world.

Museum visitors learn how direct mail marketers target individuals by answering a few questions about themselves. Are they male or female? What part of the country are they from? What are their interests? With a card that holds their coded answers, visitors access other interactive portions of the gallery.

Using the information from the card, a second station places visitors' photographs among thousands of others. A computer removes the photographs of people whose interests and vital statistics do not match those of the visitors, showing how direct mailers use demographic information to weed out people who probably would not be interested in their product.

Visitors can even take some time to test their mail-order knowledge at the exhibit's "Baffling Boxes" display.

video screenshot
What's in the Mail For You!


Three children watch as  the computer take their picture.

Two free-standing computer touch screens

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