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Direct Marketing Association, New York, hopes a study released late last week before the group's 82nd annual conference in Toronto will help its members better understand the 40% of consumers who don't make purchases through direct marketing avenues. The Direct & Interactive Marketing Buying Practices Study, sponsored in part by the U.S. Postal Service, surveyed direct marketing purchasers and non-purchasers nationwide in an attempt to discover what barriers customers perceive when it comes to purchasing through direct marketing channels. In the study, 89% of respondents said they have purchased from catalogs at some time and 57% made purchases within the past year. While just 20% had purchased from a Web site in the past 12 months, one in five Internet non-purchasers expected that they would shop through the Web in the future. DMA CEO Bob Wientzen said incentives like free shipping and handling and a system to make returns easier might be ways to draw more customers. "On balance, the study says optimistically that there are still lots of opportunities out there for us," he said., Chicago, hopes the ease and flexibility of its direct-mail creation Web site ( will encourage low- and high-volume mailers to quickly create pieces online. Using the site, officially launched early this month, customers can choose a thematic design, create copy for messages and decide on a mailing list to use for the package. Customers receive a cost estimate including postage before going forward with the mailing. is marketing the site to companies that have never used direct mail before as well as to businesses wanting to develop a custom-designed site to coordinate

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