Do consumers really hate direct marketing?

If you were anything like us you will have been overrun last week by direct mail, emails, Facebook alerts and tweets with offers from retailers trying to flog you their wares on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Seemingly this year, however, to alleviate the pandemonium experienced on the High Street in previous years, it was less of Black Friday and more of Black Week with shops spreading their offers across a number days.

We were staggered by the amount of media attention given over to the US import that has become entrenched in UK culture. For example This Morning dedicated a 10 minute slot every day to reviewing the best of the deals, the newspapers were also full of handy hints and tips on how to bag the best bargain. As a nation we went shopping crazy, but not once did I hear anyone complain about receiving a piece of direct marketing promoting a deal. In fact one shopping expert actively encouraged consumers to sign up to organisations’ databases so that they could receive the deals that would be relevant to them – she said that they could always unsubscribe later if they no longer wanted to be contacted.

This seems at odds with MP Graham Jones’ recent rant about direct marketing in Parliament “People the length and breadth of this country are sick and fed up of direct marketing. They are sick and fed up of the back of their doors having a mound of unwanted mail that they have to dispose of, which has come from companies that they have no interest in. People receive not only physical mail but email. They are sick and fed up of their email boxes being stuffed full of unwanted emails.”

He also goes on to talk about the mountain of mail that piles up in unoccupied houses becoming a fire hazard. Now there is a very simple solution to stopping this  - insist that direct mailers screen against a home mover file.

Contrary to the recent Brexit plan leak government can’t have its cake and eat it when it comes to direct marketing. Yes it is true that unwanted DM and email is annoying but to attack a £15 billion industry by saying that everyone hates DM and email and that it must be eradicated is irresponsible. If nothing else last week demonstrates that when there’s something in it for the consumer, they welcome direct marketing and some actively go out of their way to get it. The lesson as always is good targeting.