Does direct marketing need to have a direction?

Irene C.L. Ng (School of Business and Economics, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To provoke radical thinking about the role and practice of direct marketing.


Author's adaptation of a keynote address to a major conference in Asia.


Proposes that direct marketing does not need to follow the customary “direction”, i.e. of the firm seeking out customers. Effort spent on finding them could also be devoted to compelling them to seek out the firm, through increased product choices. Applying information economics, drawing on first principles and learning from examples, proposals are made for designing and developing products that achieve segmentation through self‐selection.

Practical implications

Marketing planners should closely weigh the cost of reaching out to customers, with inevitable high wastage, against the cost of producing an array of products such that each consumer's choice is market‐separating and draws the customer to the firm.


A thought‐provokingly personal view of direct marketing principles and practice.



Ng, I. (2005), "Does direct marketing need to have a direction?", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 23 No. 7, pp. 628-635.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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