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Post services have steadily evolved over centuries as the key means for long-distance communication between people. Every year European consumers hand over about 135 billion postal items to postal operators, who deliver them throughout the European Community. However, the postal sector is facing a series of challenges calling for significant transformation. The past decades have brought about a rapid development of new communication and information technologies which have an impact on consumers' needs and priorities for postal services. Some of these technologies have had the role of replacing more traditional mail services, and have led to pronounced erosion in postal volumes, whilst others have spurred the growth of certain market segments, like parcels and small packets. In the case of regulated services, like postal services, such developments in consumer demand are not immediately matched by changes in supply — they must be identified and addressed through policy decisions. It is therefore vitally important that policy makers understand consumers' needs and preferences for postal services. This study aims to provide such information by developing a methodology, based around stated preference discrete choice experiments, and implementing it in three member states: Italy, Poland and Sweden. We examine and quantify consumers' preferences for postal services, for business and residential consumers, for letter and parcel services. Based on the findings and lessons learned, the study provides a toolkit for member states that wish to conduct quantitative market research to better understand their citizens' needs for postal services.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    The importance of understanding consumers' preferences for postal services

  • Chapter Two

    Our methodological framework for measuring consumers' preferences for postal services

  • Chapter Three

    Implementing the valuation methodology in three member states

  • Chapter Four

    Postal service preferences for customers in Italy, Poland and Sweden

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and considerations for future studies

  • Appendix A

    Description of USO in the EU and member states

  • Appendix B

    Model coefficients

Research conducted by

The research described in this document was prepared for the Internal Market and Services DG MARKT/2010/14/E and conducted by RAND Europe.

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