DM Lacks Trust With Hispanic Consumers

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NEW YORK -- Though Hispanics increasingly are buying through the direct marketing channel as they move from niche to mainstream, trust remains a big issue for them.


The Direct Marketing Association's 2005 Hispanic Report, released yesterday, includes evidence of that caution. When asked on a scale of one to five, with five representing a significant problem, whether the respondents trusted companies that sold through direct channels, DM got a reading of four.


"In other words, they tend not to trust direct marketers," John A. Greco Jr., president/CEO of the DMA, told attendees yesterday at the DMA Directo: Council for Hispanic Marketing's 12th Annual Directo Days Conference.


Other findings were discouraging, too. More than half of the respondents said they wanted to see and touch items to assess product quality. One-fifth said they were uninterested in the items' advertising. Twelve percent had concerns with personal information and credit card security.


Shipping and handling fees, a bad prior experience and impatience with delivery were other barriers.


Greco cited steps the DMA was taking to correct the situation. They include building trust between DMers and current and prospective customers and donors as well as effective government and media relations.


"We'll be moving forward with an eye on how our actions can build trust with regulators and consumers, including in the consumer-sensitive areas of privacy and data security, spam and telemarketing," he said. "As you know, to ensure a prosperous future, it is imperative we keep the direct marketing channel open, accessible and free of unworkable, costly and uninformed government intervention."


Central to this mission was to bolster consumer "confianza" -- Spanish for trust -- among Hispanic consumers as well as the general market and lawmakers.


Hispanic consumers respond to direct marketing offers. The DMA cited five reasons. First was convenience, as cited by non-Hispanic consumers. The second incentive to shop from home or work was discounted and reduced prices. Time saved was next. Availability of new or unique items was fourth. The better description of the offerings was the final reason.


Will Hispanics shop direct in the future? Yes. Almost two-thirds of current buyers or donors told the DMA they probably or definitely would continue to buy goods and services through direct marketing. Nearly 80 percent intend to continue shopping online.


Serving Hispanics more effectively forms part of a new DMA Strategic Plan to grow direct marketing in the next five to 10 years, Greco told the assembled Hispanic marketers.


"I recently came across a quote that I think sums up why we are all here today," he said. "It is a Mexican proverb that says, 'El que no siembra no levanta,' which means, 'He who does not sow ... does not reap.' "


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