The paper "Ethics and Regulation in Direct Marketing in the UK" is an outstanding example of an essay on marketing. Direct marketing can be roughly defined as an interactive system that involves personalized communications between a marketer and a customer. With the advent of computers and the development of a wide array of databases, it has become possible to use various communication channels and also store customers’ information to enable further communication with them. This not only changes how direct marketing is defined but also brings into context the aspect of ethics as regards the marketer’ s use of a customer’ s information.
Not all customers may be willing to have their personal information such as contact details stored by a marketer for fear that such information may be misused or given to third parties. In addition, some customers may be discomfited when marketers constantly send them information about products or services through their phones or emails. This calls for regulations on the ethical use of the customer’ s personal information. Against this backdrop, this paper discusses the significance of ethical and socially responsible activities within the context of direct marketing in the UK.
The paper also looks at the aspect of self-regulation of the direct marketing industry in the UK and how certain complexities make legislation with regard to the regulation of direct marketing difficult. Definition of direct marketing and ethical concerns regarding the use of dataBecause direct marketing involves more than just reaching the customer in a personalized approach, Rapp (1999, cited by McCorkell [2003, p. 569]) defined it as the process in which individual customer’ s feedbacks and transactions are stored, and the information is then used to direct the targeting, implementation, and control of actions that are designed to initiate, develop and extend gainful customer relationships.
This means that direct marketing involves keeping customer details so that such details can be used in the future to reach customers or create customer profiles such as buying behavior, customer’ s geographic location and so on, which can be used in market segmentation processes. For direct marketing to be effective, marketers have to keep a database of customer profiles, which can be used to contact customers when there is a new product or service release, when there is a discount being offered on a particular product or service and so on.
This means that as marketers interact with new customers, they have to keep their personal information such as customer name; customer address (email address, IP address and postal address); age; telephone numbers; customer status, for instance user, non-user or lapsed user and so forth; income; socio-economic group; purchase history; geodemographic profile; and previous response (Withey & Lancaster 2012, p. 194; Practical Law Company 2012).
In some cases, it may be necessary to keep customers’ information pertaining to political or religious views, health and sexual orientation (Practical Law Company 2012).