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Libey Peers Into Near, Not-so-Near Future

HARRISON, NY — “This is a great time. Companies are doing quite well, and the balance of the year looks good,” keynote speaker Don Libey told attendees at yesterday's sixth annual MeritDirect Business Mailers Co-op & Interactive Marketing Conference here at the Renaissance Westchester Hotel & Conference Center.

However, 2006 may not be so economically robust, Libey added, encouraging attendees not to pull back from aggressive mailing if that is the case. This led him to his chosen topic, “The Libey Strategic Watch List and the Next New Things.” Libey, who is principal with Libey-Concordia, a direct marketing investment banking and advisory firm, listed 10 strategic issues.

The first was Asia. Libey cited China as a huge influence on marketers in terms of product sourcing. He also discussed outsourcing to India and Russia's alignment with China in the global trading sphere. According to Libey, the three world trading blocs are the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Next on the list were privacy and access, as Libey talked about the economic and legislative effects of identity theft and privacy issues. Federal privacy legislation is bound to pass, he said, but he cited Jerry Cerasale of the Direct Marketing Association in noting that there is no privacy bill with legs concerning a do-not-mail list.

Third was energy and its effect on the cost of freight. Libey said oil production may have reached its peak and yet alternative energy sources are years away.

What Libey called “one movement logistics” followed. To keep costs down, goods increasingly will need to ship from their source to the customer without a pit stop at a warehouse. He predicted that inventory would become a thing of the past.

No. five was new international expansion. Though many have tried marketing overseas, Libey said, many have pulled back. He also said European marketers were preparing to come here, making the ability to compete imperative.

“People like us,” Libey said of direct marketers, which is the reason he gave for the next item: growing numbers of private equity group acquisitions of DM firms. “We're growing, we're controllable and we're multichannel.”

Libey's seventh issue was printing overcapacity. The percentage of Web sales driven by catalogs is decreasing, he said, and ultimately fewer will be printed by each mailer, though the overall number printed will stay about the same. This will give DMers more leverage to negotiate with printers, Libey said, which will lead to cost stabilization.

The U.S. Postal Service was No. 8, as Libey encouraged looking at alternative ways to deliver catalogs. He said the USPS was becoming obsolete and mailers should consider other options over the next three to five years.

Ninth was polarity. Libey urged mailers to study economic, nationality, ideological and technological polarity. He cited the Hispanic market as underserved by BTB direct mailers.

Libey called the final item “third-partying” and offered a word of caution. He said it includes outsourcing and affiliate, pay per, relational and aggregator marketing. “We're getting further and further away from our end customer,” he said.

As for Libey's “next new things,” he listed 10 opportunities, markets and products that he sees as up and coming. Libey noted that they all relate to health, population, aging and infrastructure. He suggested that attendees examine how they can serve these markets in any BTB capacity. They are:

· Water: finding, bottling, filtering, testing, flavoring — anything to do with water.

· Medicine: medical, osteopathic, alternative, etc.

· Assisted living: 55 million to 65 million people are in the target zone.

· Home-care aids.

· Organic agriculture: They need marketing, merchandising and packaging of products.

· Radio frequency identification: It will be a $2.9 billion business by 2009.

· Biotech and genomics: great potential for Web/catalog market.

· Infrastructure: construction of schools, highways, sewers, etc.

· Condos and townhomes: They need services and supplies.

· Prisons: As the general population rises, so does the prison population.

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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