German DM Sees Solid Growth

WIESBADEN, Germany – Germany’s direct marketing industry has nearly doubled turnover in the past three years, vaulting from $15 billion to an estimated $26 billion this year. Figures were made public at the annual German DM show, the DIMA, here last week.

Other major issues discussed at the show included growing concern over a stiffer data protection law that is likely to be enacted next year and a conflict about alleged penetration by the United States’ Direct Marketing Association into Germany and other European markets.

The estimated 1999 turnover figures were developed from a survey of 3,000 representative German businesses that use some form of direct marketing. The survey was carried out by the German Post Office’s direct marketing unit.

The show – the last to be held at the Rhein Main Halle – drew 12,100 visitors, roughly 10 percent more than in 1998, and 363 exhibitors, also a record. One hundred other companies that wanted to exhibit were turned away for lack of space. DIMA 2000 will be held at the capacious fair grounds in Duesseldorf, which easily doubles the space available here. Plans call for an expanded program of up to seven parallel conferences ranging from e-commerce and call centers to fundraising and mail order.

The draft of a new data protection law includes a section demanding that mailers print the source of a recipient’s name on the front of the envelope – a feature the DDV, the German DMA, deems unacceptable. It used DIMA to launch a broad-based campaign to remove the feature from the draft law. Visitors were given red fliers with a dramatic “STOP” in white letters and a button denouncing the proposal and were urged to return response cards supporting the DDV’s efforts to block the law.

Banners hung across the exhibition space warning of lost jobs and revenues should the name-sourcing passage remain. Jobs, the DDV said, would flow abroad while a reduced direct mail volume would cost billions. No figures about how many visitors had returned response cards were available by the show’s close.

DDV legal counsel Hans Juergen Schaefer said the association will continue to battle the law through lobbying the Berlin government and enlisting support from Germany’s DM firms. He was modestly optimistic that the offending passage could be eliminated or weakened.

Both DDV managing director Holgar Albers and Charles Prescott, international vice president of the DMA, denied reports in Werben & Verkaufen, Europe’s largest marketing magazine, that the U.S. association plans to expand activities in Europe and take members away from local associations. Prescott said the DMA took a stand at DIMA to become better known in Germany – it also had stands at the Wembley show in March and in Stockholm in the summer – and to promote the services it could offer new members.

Albers said he had included a DMA flier explaining its services in the November issue of the monthly Dialog magazine, which was sent to all 900 DDV members.

“The DMA is structured differently than we are,” Albers said. “They have products to sell – like seminars – and are eager to target European markets. We have no problems with what they are doing. Globalization and internationalization can’t be stopped. And they promised to help us develop DIMA 2000.”

Prescott said he expects to send out a mailing to 35,000 European executives promoting the DMA’s activities and urging them to attend next year’s fall conference in New Orleans, “providing we can get the money.”

Expressions of harmony notwithstanding, Werben & Verkaufen is not the only media to have heard reports of friction between U.S. and European associations. Specifically, the Europeans fear expansion of U.S. hegemony on their turf.

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