Danes Look for EU Data Protection Directive, Web to Lift DM

COPENHAGEN – Danish direct marketers expect the nation’s new data protection law — adapted from the EU directive and due to go into effect July 1 — to make their lives easier by liberalizing the list broker market.

“We don’t have a real list business in Denmark,” said Henrik Saustrup, director of new business and media at Scandirect, a major direct marketing agency here, “because of the current law’s opt-in requirement.

“That means you can’t rent anybody’s name who has not given you specific written and signed consent to do so. But it looks as if the new law will change that to an opt out — consumers will have to tell you if they don’t want mail.”

At the same time, however, the new law will require establishment of a Danish Mail Preference Service in which those who don’t want to receive mail or other direct marketing contact can register their names.

Mailers will then have to match list names against the MPS file, and that “won’t make our business any easier,” Saustrup said; although, MPS files are common in most other European countries.

Current Danish law allows mailers to use their own database to contact clients, but lists cannot be rented out without specific consent from consumers.

Scandirect started a list business two years ago, figuring the European Union’s data protection directive would quickly be enacted into law. But like most EU members, Denmark has dragged its feet in implementing the directive.

“We still have a list operation. Lists are not a big business for us, but it is a business,” Saustrup said. “We only have three lists, but I think they are the only lists for rent in Denmark because all our names have permission signatures on them.”

Most other lists are compiled from the phone directory, and they make up the bulk of Denmark’s list business. “We have some lifestyle and demographic data we can also use.”

Danish marketers can segment people according to where they live. This small country of about 5 million people is divided into 9,500 small areas, which makes demographic and lifestyle targeting more effective.

“On average each one of these small areas contains about 250 households.” The division was devised by using Experian’s geographic “mosaic” system.

“We think the new law will change a lot about our business. Current predictions about direct mail volumes in Denmark are pretty positive right now. Our analysis shows that DM will increase significantly.”

Direct mail still makes up the core of the country’s direct marketing business, and it is used in the industrial, financial, entertainment and telecommunications sectors of the economy.

Danish Post is quick, reliable and, unlike the Swedes, delivers packages at home. But it is expensive. “We think our postal rates are the highest in the world,” Saustrup said. “And that’s why mail order houses don’t like the Danish Post.”

But he expects the Danish postal law to be liberalized in the wake of EU action opening up member markets to competition.

Telemarketing is more difficult than mailings. Outbound calls to consumers are “pretty restrictive. We have a specific law that only allows a few product lines to call consumers — insurance, books, newspapers and charities. But BTB is okay.”

Catalog buying has become respectable in Denmark as it has across Scandinavia, with the image shifting into an up-market mode, largely because major Swedish catalogers have put their imprint on the market.

H&M Rowells is the major Swedish cataloger in Denmark, and it sells mostly apparel as do domestic catalogers; though, some electronics are sold in the books. “We see Dell doing that from time to time.”

Most computer companies, however, seem to prefer magazine and newspaper inserts in selling here.

On the Internet, Swedes are ahead of Danes, but not by much, Saustrup believes. “We are coming along with 65 percent computer penetration and Internet access at 45 percent.”

Denmark has 2.3 million households, and 1.1 million of them have access to the Internet with 150,000, about 16 percent, actually having bought something from the Web.

Danish surfers move across the globe, mostly accessing sites in Europe and the United States. The country has several Web startups.

Public attitudes towards direct marketing are relatively positive, Saustrup said but cautioned that Danes want mailings to contain information they can use and not offer “unserious or cheap goods.”

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