Australia and Europe Lead Overseas DM Markets in 1999

NEW YORK – Australia is rapidly emerging as the star performer in the hard-hit Asia/Pacific Rim region, and Europe looks better than it has in years for American direct marketers going abroad. That’s the assessment of publisher Al Goodloe, speaking at his annual Publisher’s Multinational Direct Conference here.

He predicted American publishers would find Europe’s southern rim, specifically Spain, Portugal and Greece, good sales territory, and he said the Benelux countries also looked good.

Europe’s big three – Germany, France and the UK – are harder places in which to develop new sales. France and Germany especially, he said, have strong local magazine publishers who are “hard to beat.” The UK remains the best bet among the large markets.

Australia has bucked the downward trend in its region, growing 5 percent in the last quarter of 1998. Goodloe cited the Financial Review of Australia, which noted that “corporate Australia responded to the Asian crisis with more than 17-percent growth last year.”

The New Zealand market has been fairly flat, but he noted that the NZ dollar has stabilized and that inflation is at its lowest levels in 30 years.

Middle Eastern markets are something of a hidden gold mine. Few DMers know how good the region can be, but those who do comment that response rates are holding up well.

Goodloe also noted that the small country universe remains a good area for direct marketers. “Put them together and you have a great market,” he said. Mailings into Finland, Cyprus, Mauritius, New Guinea and other out of the way places all do well and offer the added advantage of relatively little red tape and limited interference with business.

Latin America has become a question mark in the wake of Brazil’s fiscal crisis that has seen the Real drop to 2.15 to the dollar. The region was hot last year, but interest has clearly sagged.

Goodloe warned, however, against treating Latin America as a single market. “Response rates vary sharply from country to country,” he said.

Uncertain economies and sharp market gyrations are also changing the efficacy of foreign mailings.

More frequent and smaller mailings have become more effective, and people who like large mailings because they save time and money should reconsider their strategy, he said.

Mailers who wait six months or a year between mailings can find themselves “hopelessly out of date, and that can be very dangerous,” Goodloe suggested. He suggested “drip feeding” into different markets.

Country-by-country tracking of response rates helps reveal mailing patterns, he said, and he warned against any precipitous halt in mailings which marketers in Asia particularly have been doing.

Those who fail to keep mailing risk outdated files with a high percentage of undeliverables and a consequent inability to move quickly when recovery does come. “Keep files current,” he counseled, “even if markets are not doing well.”

Shifting payment from dollars to local currency is another strategy for maintaining subscription levels, mailers are finding, so are deep discounts in troubled economies with 35 percent not uncommon.

Plunging telecom costs worldwide are making e-mail a more attractive sales channel, Goodloe noted, indeed more attractive on global markets than at home. And he predicted that telecom costs would continue to decline sharply.

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