Industry needs to accommodate consumer interest

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Industry needs to accommodate consumer interest
As we come to the end of 2007, mailers are still digesting the aftereffects of May's rate case. And, while 2008 at least holds the promise of no further hefty jumps in costs, uncertainty lies in another area — in the shape of the proposed do-not-mail legislation.

The Direct Marketing Association is naturally coming out with all guns blazing in a bid to stanch this movement, as was evidenced in the members-only Catalog Summit it held last week. The enhancements it has made to the Mailing Preference Service (formally announced last week but rumored for some time), coupled with its Commitment to Consumer Choice, are well-received.

But the DMA, rightly, is also looking over its shoulder at the increasing number of consumer advocacy groups — many backed by established environmental organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council — who are stepping up their efforts to cull catalog mailing on behalf of consumers. These groups have similar goals and motivation as the DMA, yet they are taking a combative, negative stance, rather than the DMA's (and the industry's) stance of positive movement toward more effective mail marketing and a smaller environmental impact.

As last week's DMNews/Pitney Bowes survey showed, consumers value their mail and promise to respond positively to industry efforts to reduce the carbon footprint. The considerable outreach of these advocacy groups runs the risk of diluting the DMA's own efforts, and it's the industry efforts, not advocacy ones, that will likely win or lose the fight against do-not-mail legislation. If the DMA can show that it has made every effort to help consumers customize their needs, then it can rest a little easier. Right now, however, it's a crowded landscape and the whole industry needs to redouble its efforts to lead the charge.

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