Make a Renewed Commitment to Consumer Choice
It’s been nearly 10 years since the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) began requiring all members to follow its Privacy Promise. In 1998, faced with mounting concerns from legislators, advocates and consumers, we unveiled this self-regulatory initiative and aggressively enforced it.
Since then, we’ve seen regulators and legislators impose restrictions affecting certain direct marketing sectors, specifically teleservices, health care and financial services, as well as those who market to children or adults online. But the self-regulation put in place years ago has served the mailing industry well.
Now it’s time to take that to the next level. At the beginning of my lengthy career in the “consumer” business, I heard the admonitions of consumer advocates and management gurus who proclaimed the consumer was in control of the marketplace, and sellers should beware. In today’s marketplace, with all the technology available, consumers can tune in or out as their interests and inclinations change.
The practice of sending catalogs, however, largely is unregulated — we want to keep it that way. But clearly consumers want more choice in what mail they receive. They tell us they want mail that’s relevant to their lives and received at the time they’re ready, willing and able to purchase — and less of what they don’t want.
It’s in our best financial interests to honor their wishes. To thrive as a community, catalogers must use their talents to meet consumer desires, thereby building consumer trust and operating unfettered by legislation.
Categories of Concern
Consumer concerns regarding the receipt of catalogs fall into identifiable and actionable categories.
◆ Choice. Consumers want choice over the types and volume of solicitations they receive. Question: Have your customers told you they would like fewer of your catalogs, or some editions but not others? Have some told you they don’t want to hear from you again? Can you act on these requests quickly and effectively?