Direct Mailing in the Benelix (735 words)
Made up by the countries of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, the Benelux is home to a well-developed direct marketing infrastructure. Combine that with its central location and you have a region worthy of consideration, as a target market as well as an entrance to the European continent.
The Benelux is a good point of entry to Europe for three key reasons:
1. Direct marketing infrastructure: It has a "super infrastructure, not only for the region itself, but as a springboard for the rest of Europe," points out Jim Foster, managing director of DMC International.
"The direct marketing infrastructure is in some ways more sophisticated than the United States because of the relative compactness in geography, high density of population, a 97-percent employment rate, and a stable and comfortable income level of a large middle class," adds Arthur Heydendael, president of Probe International.
2. Receptive Audience: The population has an "open attitude" and is receptive to direct marketing efforts, according to Foster.
Belgium is one of the most heavily mailed European markets. Belgians receive, on average, 87 pieces of direct mail per year. Only slightly behind, residents of the Netherlands receive 82 direct mail pieces a year.
3. Multilingual Labor: A sizeable portion of the population speaks two to three languages fluently. More than 90 percent of the Dutch population speaks English.
"Even though the population speaks varying degrees of English, you don't want to target consumers in English," cautions Susan Boyle, managing partner of Stepping Stone. Foster concurs, adding that "nothing replaces addressing someone in his or her own language."
The combined population of the Benelux is relatively small and embraces Flemish, Dutch, French and German so you "pretty much have to go in-language," observes Boyle. As such, you may want to target by language. For example, you may mail German-speakers in Luxembourg and Belgium, or Flemish- and Dutch-speakers in Belgium and the Netherlands.