The Direct Marketing Association US is going to tie-+
up with Indian Confederation of Direct Marketing to form the Direct Marketing Association in India. This Association will formally launch in two months' time.
Rajat Sethi, CEO of Wunderman India, is one of the founder members of the Association, which already has 20 large direct marketing agencies as its members, including Wunderman, Ogilvy One, Direm, Select Direct, and Regency, RMG Connect among others.
Elaborating on the newly-formed Association, Sethi said, "The need for setting up the direct marketing body was to promote the channels that are being used for direct marketing, e-commerce, direct mail, catalogue, etc. The industry needs a body to regulate the telemarketing companies. Direct marketing is growing at a good speed. The media is fragmenting. The cost of the media is increasing. Consumers are becoming smarter. They want direct service. Technology is also becoming an enabler for direct marketing. There is no other organisation for representing direct marketing sector in India."
Charles A Prescott, Vice-President, International Business Development and Government Affairs of the Direct Marketing Association, Inc, of the US, said, "The Direct Marketing Association of US was founded in 1917. We focus on education, market placement for students, branding for the industry. Our main focus is to relate to the government over current issues. We have 4,800 member companies and 44 counties across the world."
Sethi said that the main focus of the Indian Direct marketing Association was to represent the industry to the government. "We would advice the government on issues related to Direct Marketing. The Indian Postal Department will help us to build a large database of the media, marketing companies, etc. They are quite excited about the offer. Our second focus is to protect consumer's interest. Our main focus is to responsible communicators. We will have our own code of conduct. We are going to shape the future of direct marketing in India. Like in the US, they develop the curriculum for education and talent pool in the industry. Creative awards like Abby Awards, Cannes are also using direct marketing. 48 per cent of the advertising spend is on direct marketing in the US," he pointed out.
Sethi further said that anyone could become member of this association in India, who was a serious player, wants common voice and had ethical standards. "We are targeting large marketing companies, users, key suppliers in the printing industry and promotional agencies. The annual membership fees for corporates is Rs 10,000, while for professionals it is Rs 900."
Prescott pointed out that major differences between the direct marketing sector in the US and that in India was that the retail sector was more powerful and concentrated in the US as compared to India, where it was still in the initial stages. "The catalogue ad spend in the US is 18-20 per cent of the total ad spend, while in India it is really low. There are more vast and quality databases available on rent in the US, whereas in India, the quality of database available on the rent is an issue," he further said.
According to Sethi, "The major challenges that are being faced by the direct marketing sector in India is how to ensure a more robust/more available database. Also developing trust between companies since we exchange data to sell each other's products. Another challenge is the use of alternate media like response TV, mobile and the Internet. We also need to change the sameness of the Direct Marketing programmes like loyalty programme. Indian consumers are reaching a saturation point as far these programmes are concerned. Experiential marketing will become really important in this business."