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Direct Marketing is an invasion of people’s privacy

DirectMarketing is an invasion of people’s privacy

DirectMarketing is an invasion of people’s privacy

Directmarketing is one marketing technique that has attracted debate day inday out over its effectiveness and its role in the invasion ofprivacy. It is vital to start with defining what direct marketing isdirect marketing has largely been known to mean the form of marketingthat is addressed to individuals by business and commercial marketerswithout the use of retailers by the use of mails, e-mails, telephonecalls, short messages and door-to-door approaches (Nash, 2000). It isalso critical to note that direct marketing may come in form ofrequests for donations to charities, political parties and othernon-profit organizations. The big question is does the use of directmarketing result to invasion of privacy. This question has invitedtremendous debate and there are arguments made for and against therole of directing marketing in the invasion of privacy (Kennedy,2013). It also imperative to point out that directing marketing isassociated with call-to-action information where, potential customersor existing clients are asked to do something. For instance, it is acommon occurrence nowadays to receive short messages in the campaignperiod asking a person to contribute towards a certain politician orpolitical party (Lautman,2001).Businesses and commercial marketers will also send emails, automatedcalls, or mails, requesting people to purchase certain products oruse certain services.

Whereasdirect marketing may be beneficial in one way or the other to theconsumer, there are arguments towards the use of direct marketing asan invasion of people’s privacy. This point can be explainedclearly if it is discussed from two different angles. One, there iswhat is called solicited and unsolicited direct marketing. Insolicited direct marketing, the consumer has had a previousrelationship with the direct marketer (Thomas, 2006). In other words,the solicited form of direct market has been said to be an authorizedform of marketing. For instance, if a telemarketer calls about thebest service station of a washing machine a customer just bought, themarketer does not invade the privacy of the customer. In this regard,direct marketing is beneficial to the client since it informs him orher on the best service station for his machine. It is evident thatthere is a prior relationship between the customer and the marketer.In other words, when the marketer makes the call, he knows theproduct that the customer had purchased, and goes direct to the pointas to why he called (Kobs, 2009).

However,unsolicited for of direct marketing has largely been the point ofdebate in regard to people’s privacy. Unwanted or unauthorizeddirecting marketing approaches are viewed as a nuisance. The questiontherefore is does this amount to invasion of privacy? However,research has indicated that a majority of people in the United Statesand across the world are concerned on how a company or a businessentity they hardly know about handling their private information(Keillor, 2007). It is evident that such organizations can use thedata for whichever purpose they may like besides for directmarketing. Unsolicited direct marketing has been viewed as intrusionto privacy in the sense that he potential customer does not have anyprior knowledge or relationship with the marketer or the business inquestion. For instance, a call from a telemarketer to a father duringdinner time asking him to subscribe to an e-learning library is anintrusion of privacy (Keeler, 2006). It is evident that the fathermight not have even the remotest chance of ever subscribing to such aservice.

Whendirect marketing is in form of door-to-door approach, the invasion toprivacy is even intense. It is almost impossible to expect an unknownperson knocking on your day with a collection of products in hishands. When such direct marketing happens, it is evident that themarket knows your home address and such crucial information on whereyou live can be shared with thugs (Cady &amp Mcgregor, 2002). It isalso evident that such door-to-door invasions may be used by themarketers to spy on what items a potential customer has in his or herhouse. A majority or all people consider their homes as a sanctuaryand would see any form of intrusion as a concern to their privacy.

Moreoften than not, the information that businesses and non-profitsorganizations gather for purposes of directing marketing raises somequestions. Consumers are especially concerned that the informationthese businesses and/or non-profit organizations receive is more thanwhat they need for direct marketing (Polito, 2004). For instance, thebusinesses and the organizations receive data from the registry thatmight contain credit card information, as well as the healthinformation of individuals. As a consequence, it is not clear whetherthese businesses and non-profit organizations use such informationfor only direct marketing purposes. Consumers are concerned on thepossibility of such information leaking to third parties who willdefinitely know their private information. According to DanielSolove’s Taxonomy of privacy, it is unacceptable to use personalinformation of individuals without their consent (Mcway, 2014). It isevident that the business or organizations that engage in unsoliciteddirect marketing do not have prior permission from the potentialclients to use their personal information.

Danielalso argues that the bombardment of a person with numerous emails,junk, spam and telemarketing, amount to invasion of privacy. The factthat an unknown person or business entity sent an email or fax isproof enough that they possess your information such the emailaddresses (Bose,2010).It is also vital to point out that information such email addressesgo hand in hand with the names of the recipients. Therefore, it isclear that the use of emails, fax and spams to reach potentialclients interferes with the privacy of the subjects. This aspect ofdirect marketing send numerous information in form of emails ormessages to homes, which are considered as sanctuaries and this isconsidered as an intrusion of privacy (Reinecke, 2011).

Advocatesof consumer protection and consumers themselves have continuallyargued that the regulations put in place for direct marketing need tobe reviewed. The argument is that the unsolicited direct marketinginterferes with people’s privacy (Anderson &amp Goodman, 2002).The marketers collect people’s information in order to facilitatethe direct marketing process. It is however vital to point out thatdirect marketing is an extremely beneficial tool if it is usedappropriately. Direct marketing seeks to provide consumers withrelevant information regarding certain products and services (Mullin,2006). For instance, direct marketing can be used to communicate areduction in the price of a commodity or new discounts. Suchinformation can be vital both to the consumer and the businessentity. Marketers argue that direct marketing helps them acquire newcustomers hence increase sales. An increase in the sales translatesto profitability and a country’s economic growth (Krafft,2007).

Anotheraspect which has been viewed as intrusion of privacy through directmarketing is the upcoming trend of targeted or behavioral internetmarketing. In this aspect, the marketers gather profile informationof potential clients and send advertising message and emails to themdepending on their interest (Kobs, 2004). The marketers argue thatthey do these to avoid annoying potential customers through sendingthem irrelevant advertisement information in form of emails andsocial messages. It is however an invasion of privacy according tohuman rights advocates. The process involves gathering other people’sprivate information on the social networking websites and using itfor marketing purposes. Such information might involve mattersprivate such as health information (Kurtz,2012).


Inregard to the above arguments, it is clear that direct marketing maybe viewed as invasion to privacy on one hand and as an effectivemarketing tool on the other hand (Geller,2002).Solicited or what is referred to us the authorized direct marketingcan be extremely helpful to the customer since it providesinformation in regard to an earlier purchase or negotiation(Trottier, 2012). On the contrary, unsolicited direct marketing is anuisance and an intrusion to privacy. The Act on the intrusion ofprivacy must be clear on what extent marketers and non-profitorganizations can go in regard to direct marketing. The sending ofshort messages, telephone calls, mails, emails, fax and door-to-doorapproach to direct marketing must be authorized by the subjectotherwise they amount to intrusion of people’s privacy (Dobkin,2008). It is also vital to conclude by mentioning the sanctity of anindividual’s private information direct marketing utilizespersonal information, which might be extremely private to theindividual. Therefore, the issue of whether direct marketing intrudesto people’s privacy depends on whether it was solicited orunsolicited.


Itcan be recommended that direct marketing must be authorized by theconsumer or the potential consumer to a business or organization. Inother words, unsolicited form of direct marketing should beabolished. It is also apparent that the Act on intrusion of privacyis not clear on what extent direct marketing should go. It istherefore recommended that the Privacy Act be reviewed to avoidintrusion of privacy through direct marketing. Lastly, it isrecommended that direct marketing should not involve physicalpresence of the marketer. It is evident that this would amount tointrusion of privacy since it involves visiting people’s homes.


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