What's on a Mailing List?
Mailing lists that are supplied to renters contain names and full addresses. And lists commonly contain hundreds of thousands of names. When marketers rent a list, they have no interest in individual information -- only in the characteristics that put all those people on a particular list. For example, a list of subscribers to a ski magazine might represent a potential market for a sport's clothing catalog.
The names on a list become individuals only when they reply to an offer and become customers. Then, good marketers want to serve you just as personally as small town merchants did long ago. They keep accurate records of your purchases and preferences in order to serve you as well as they can. For example, one direct marketing company uses its computerized records to remind busy customers of birthdays for which they have sent presents in previous years. But your purchase information is useful to them only when you are being served personally -- when you phone, for example. Otherwise, information is only of use to the marketer in the aggregate. The records of hundreds, even thousands of customers help them, for instance, to avoid being out-of-stock on popular items or to spot buying trends, to meet the needs of the large numbers of customers necessary to create a profitable business.
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