Global consumerism spawning international DM expansion

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It's a reality now that marketers and their DM partners are feeling the effects of shifting, even declining, budgets, and many are nimbly making tweaks to their business models. InfoUSA is like many others who are grappling with the slow­ing growth of the direct mail business, and it has worked to build up its technological capabilities, enhancing the power of its database offerings.

But with a characteristically big bang last week, the company announced plans for global expansion, capitalizing in particu­lar on India's voracious appetite for databases with marketing and research applications. The message was, with direct mail slowing here, global expansion is critical — InfoUSA is even planning to change its name to reflect this. (The odds-on favor­ite is surely InfoGlobal, but I'm keeping the book open.)

Digitas, a major agency player, also last week announced a beachhead in India through the rebranding of Publicis Groupe's Solutions in India and Singapore as Solutions/Digitas.

India is a powerhouse for technology and innovation, and is no longer just servicing overseas companies with this in­novation, either; homegrown startups from search engines to YouTube-type properties are thriving. Combine this with the fact that, according to Digitas' global CEO Alan Rutherford, the US economy's effect in India so far seems to be limited, the market is clearly a very promising option.

Global expansion in the DM industry is nothing new. But the upside of doing it right now is that technology — particularly, online and social media — has torn down international barriers, and the consumer is now a global entity. That can be a real chal­lenge for marketers, but the beauty of direct is that while you can speak to a global audience, you're still, at the end of the day, reaching the consumer in a one-to-one interaction.

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