This year, the UK will celebrate 50 years of the postcode being introduced and how it evolved to become an invaluable tool for the Royal Mail and direct marketers alike.
In 1959, the first postcodes were introduced in Norwich, with the first half of the postcode, NOR, representing the city name, and the last three characters each individual street.
During the 1960s, postcodes were rolled out to all addresses across the UK.
There are now in excess of 1.7 million postcodes across the UK, covering 28 million addresses.
Its usage has developed over the years and it is now much more than a delivery tool for Royal Mail, forming the backbone of many services such as online shopping and satellite navigation systems.
Additionally, the introduction of the postcode spawned a number of revolutionary marketing techniques such as geodemographics, a targeting tool based on the premise that “birds of a feather flock together”.
The postcode also gave rise to Royal Mail’s Postal Address File (PAF), Royal Mail’s unique database of over 28 million UK addresses. PAF forms the cornerstone of marketing datasets enabling marketers to improve the accuracy of mailings, target more effectively, reduce gone-aways, costs and increase efficiency.
Giles Finnemore, head of marketing at Royal Mail’s Address Management team, said: “Although the postcode is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2009 it’s still as important today as it ever was to help Royal Mail sort and deliver mail quickly and efficiently.
“Additionally, without the postcode the direct marketing industry would be less well developed and brands would be unable to target their mailings efficiently. Moreover, our postcode system now lies at the heart of many forms of modern technology, such as satnav systems, online mapping and route planners and of course online shopping.”
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