Implications of Electronic Mail and Message Systems for the U.S. Postal Service Page: 24

24 . Implications of Electronic Mail and Message Systems for the US. Postal Service

Baseline Mainstream

As one input to the market penetration mod
el, the baseline mainstream was divided into
a number of different submarkets (subclasses
of mail) in two ways by mail content and by
sender/receiver pairs. The mail content cate
gories included correspondence, merchandise,
bills, financial statements, and advertising,
among others. Senders and receivers were
grouped into households and nonhouseholds.
Thus, the four possible sender/receiver pairs
included household to household, household/
nonhousehold, nonhousehold/household, and
The baseline volume for every class of con
ventional mail (first, second, third, fourth,
other) was estimated for each category of mail
content and sender/receiver pair. These esti
mates were based on data in two studies con
ducted for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) by
the University of Michigan Survey Research
Center known as the Household Mainstream
Study and Nonhousehold Mailstream Study,
which in turn were based respectively on 1977
and 1979 mainstream data.' For consistency,
the 1979 nonhousehold data were used to es
tablish ratios among the types of mail and
then applied to 1977 mail volumes so that all
data would be for the 1977 calendar year.
The resulting baseline mainstream is high
lighted in tables 1 and 2 and detailed in ap
pendix A (table A 1). It is possible that some
shifting among the mail segments has oc
curred since 1977, although a comparison of
data for the 1977 and 1980 fiscal years indi
cates no major changes. The total mail volume
has grown from about 92 billion to 106 billion
pieces between 1977 and 1980. First class mail
has decreased from 58 percent of the total to
56.6 percent; second class mail has decreased
from 9.4 percent to 7.9 percent; and third class
mail has increased from 26 percent to 28.5 per
cent of the total mail volume.2
'M. Kallick, W. Rodgers, et al., Household Mailstream Study,
Final Report; prepared for the Mail Classification Division,
USPS, 1978. Also, Nonhousehold Mai stream Study Interim
Report for First Postal Quarter PFY 1979, July 1979.
Annual Report of the Postmaster General, fiscal 1980, pp.

Table 1.- Baseline Mainstream

To households To nonhouseholds
From 760/o 990/0
households (7 1 billion pieces) (92 billion pieces)
From 53 3% 2920/o
nonhouseholds . . . . . (497 billion pieces) (27 3 billion pieces)
SOURCE 1977 data, University of Michigan Millstream Study conducted for
USPS percentages shown are based on total 1977 mail volume of
93 3 billion pieces, See app A, table A 2, for further details
Table 2.-Mail Content (illustrative)

To households
From Correspondence 7 1
households percent of total mail
From Third class (mostly bulk
non rate) mail 102
households percent
Bills 9 5 percent
Advertising 9 .1 percent
Financial statements
2 8 percent

To nonhouseholds
Negotiable Instruments
(e g checks) 7.0
Correspondence-1. 5
Bills and financial state
ments 9 .1
Correspondence 6 .1
Advertising 5 - 7 percent

SOURCE University of Michigan Millstream Study conducted for USPS Per
centages shown are based on total 1977 mail volume See app A,
table A 2, for further details
Mail originating from nonhouseholds consti
tutes over four fifths of the total mainstream.
Nonhousehold originated bills and financial
statements alone account for over one fifth of
the total, advertising about one seventh, and
bulk rate mail over one tenth. Of the one fifth
of the mail originating from households, most
is either correspondence (letters and cards) or
negotiable instruments (checks).
All mainstream segments were evaluated to
determine whether they potentially could be
handled (in whole or in part) by electronic
funds transfer (EFT) and/or electronic mail
and message systems (EMS). Those major seg
ments judged to be vulnerable to penetration
by EFT and/or EMS are listed in tables 3 and
4. (See app. A, table A 2, for a complete list.)
As shown in tables 3 and 4, accounting only
for major mainstream segments, about two
thirds of the mainstream is vulnerable to pene
tration by EFT and/or EMS. This translates
into about three quarters of first class mail

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United States. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Implications of Electronic Mail and Message Systems for the U.S. Postal Service, report, August 1982; [Washington D.C.]. ( accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.