'Grim' Study Charts Changing Telemarketing Environment

The national no-call list is radically changing the telemarketing industry's market, cutting off more than half of all consumers and 55 percent of the industry's existing customer base, according to a white paper released yesterday by the Direct Marketing Association.

Also, the pool of available customers will skew poorer and younger than before, according to the report, “The New Economics of Telemarketing.” Yet in one important aspect, average order size, they will be more desirable than those on the no-call list.

“However grim these statistics are, by understanding how its customer base will change as a result of the DNC registry coming into force, the teleservices industry may cope with at least some of its negative repercussions,” the white paper said.

The survey of 1,000 consumers conducted in September and October for the DMA by ORC International, Princeton, NJ, found that telemarketers will lose total contact with 55.5 percent of the consumer public, or about 116 million consumers, because of the no-call list. Of those, 18 million are telemarketing “customers,” having bought from telemarketers in the past 12 months, while 98 million are non-customers.

About 54.3 million phone numbers have been registered to the no-call list, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But that figure does not represent individual consumers, who may share phone lines or have multiple lines into a single home.

Of the 92.7 million consumers still available to telemarketers, 18.7 million will be on the no-call list but have existing-business relationships that allow companies with which they do business to continue calling, the study found.

The rest will not be registered for the no-call list, including 30 million who will have made a telemarketing purchase in the past 12 months and 44 million non-customers.

The study found that the average age of those who said they would register for the list was 44.7, compared with 41.6 for those who said they would not. DNC registrants also had higher incomes, averaging $50,000 a year, and were more likely to be married, with 57 percent saying they were. Non-registrants averaged $39,000 a year and had a 38 percent marriage rate.

However, among those who bought from telemarketers in the past year, 48 percent of those who spent more than $100 said they would register for the list. In comparison, 53 percent of those who spent $51 to $99 said they would register, as did 59 percent of those who spent $1 to $50. That finding was “one of the few significant silver linings from the DNC for telemarketers,” the study said.

“Given the strength of the correlation between high expenditure individuals and the likelihood of remaining off the list, the average order size may in fact be almost 40 percent higher,” it said.

The study further noted that when it asked telemarketing non-customers why they didn't buy from telemarketers, many went outside the bounds of a selection of multiple-choice answers to respond that they never buy from telemarketers. Of all non-customers, 50 percent gave this answer, whereas the rate for non-customers who had not registered for the no-call list was 44 percent.

“This motive was not one of the options offered to respondents,” the report stated. “Since it was spontaneously volunteered, it suggests that respondents feel very strongly about this principle and are highly unlikely to purchase goods or services from telemarketers.”

The complete study is available to DMA members at www.the-dma.org.

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