Direct Mail and the Internet

Direct mail is a viable medium in an increasing number of countries. It is especially important when other media is not available as is often the case in international marketing. Even such a fundamental medium is subject to some odd and novel quirks, For example, in Chile direct mail is virtually eliminated as an effective medium because the sender pays only part of the mailing fee; the letter carrier must collect additional postage for every item delivered. Obviously advertisers cannot afford to alienate customers by forcing them to pay for unsolicited advertisements. Despite some limitations with direct mail, many companies have found it a meaningful way to reach their markets. The Reader’s digest Association has used direct mail advertising in Mexico to successfully market its magazines.

In Southeast Asian markets where print media are scarce, direct mail is considered one of the most effective ways to reach that is responsible for making industrial goods purchases even though accurate mailing lists are a problem in Asia as well as in other parts of the world. In fact, some categories build their own database for direct mail. Industrial advertisers are heavy mail users and rely on catalogs and sales sheets to generate large volumes of international business. Even in Japan, where media availability is not a problem direct mail is successfully used by marketers such as Nestle, Japan and Dell computer. To promote its Buitoni fresh chilled pasta Nestle is using 12 page color direct mail booklet of recipes, including Japanese style versions of Italian favorites.

In Russia the volume of direct mail has gone from just over 150,000 letters per month to over 500,000 per month in one year. Although small by US standards the response rate to direct mailing is as high as 10 to 20 percent, compared with only 3 to 4 per cent or less in the United States. One suggestion as to why it works so well is that Russians are flattered by the attention—needless to say, that will probably change as use of the medium grows.

Though still evolving the Internet has emerged as a viable medium for advertising and should be included as one of the media in a company’s possible media mix. Its use in business to business communications and promotion via catalogs and product descriptions is rapidly gaining in popularity. Because a large number of businesses have access to the Internet, the Internet can reach a large portion of the business to business market.

Although limited in its penetration of households globally, the Internet is being used by a growing number of companies as an advertising medium for consumers’ goods. Many consumer goods companies have e-stores and others use of the Internet as an advertising medium to stimulate sales in retail outlets .Waterford Crystal of Ireland has set up its Web site specifically to drive store traffic. The aim is to promote its product and to attract people into stores that sell Waterford crystal. Sites list and display almost the entire catalog of the Waterford collections, while stores like Bloomingdale’s that stock Waterford support the promotional effort by also advertising on the internet.

For consumer products, the major limitations of the Internet are coverage. In the United States growing number of households have access to a computer, but there are fewer in other countries. However, the growing number of internet households accessible in the United States generally constitutes a younger, better educated market segment with higher than average incomes . For many companies, this group is an important market niche. Furthermore, this limitation is only temporary as new technology allows access to the Internet via television and has lower prices for personal computers that expands the household base.