State of the Industry-1999 (2,293 words)
Consumer Privacy: A Growing Dilemma
Privacy is one of the hottest topics discussed by direct marketers, consumers and legislators, and not surprisingly, it was listed as a top external challenge by nearly a third (32.2 percent) of direct marketers surveyed. What was disheartening is how few direct marketers were acting to stave off the criticism. Only 56 percent of those who rent their lists give an opt-out option and only 52.5 percent maintain an in-house suppression file. More surprisingly, only 7 percent and 14 percent of respondents subscribed to the DMA telephone and mail preference services, respectively.
"Consumers are concerned with privacy and direct marketers need to pay more attention," cautions Ron Greene.
Martha Rogers sees the situation as more dire, warning, "If direct marketers don't take care of privacy inside the industry, it's an open invitation to get the Feds involved. I just spent two weeks in Europe, and it taught me a good lesson on privacy. They are way, way more paranoid then we are, way ahead of us in terms of privacy regulations, and they're already paying the price."
Richard Hochhauser has confidence that self-regulation efforts will prevail before the damage is done.
"There are people who lead the way and those who follow," he says. "When it comes to privacy, people will have to follow the leaders or they'll be legislated out of existence. The DMA will lead the way because following privacy guidelines will be a condition of membership in 1999."
Global Upheaval and Opportunity
While the global economy was cited as a major concern by fewer than a quarter (23.7 percent) of direct marketers in the survey, this importance may change in years to come.
More companies are marketing internationally and to a greater spectrum of countries. International efforts to all regions have increased in 1998 over the 1992 figures, with the biggest increase in South America. In 1992, only 42 percent of surveyed companies had entered the global marketplace, compared to nearly half (48.1 percent) today, but the biggest change is among the future plans of those who do not yet market internationally. Ninety-seven percent of these direct marketers plan to do business globally in the next five years.