'Fly-by-night operators spoiling name of direct marketing cos'

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Mumbai, Mar 9 (UNI) The direct marketing industry, which is expected to be worth Rs 15,000 crore by 2012, is concerned over the fly-by-night operators who have brought it a bad name.

The industry depends heavily on word-of-mouth rather than advertising or publicity for sales. But its image has taken a beating because of marketers of inferior products hawked by ''get-rich-quick'' people.

''It's true that we avoid heavy publicity and advertising, and also bypass the distributors and stockists to offer customers the best possible price. As for the perception that our products are inferior, I'll blame the fly-by-night operators who have fooled a number of customers,'' says direct marketing company Image Multitrade president Pankaj L Shah.

The roots of direct marketing can be traced back to 15th century Europe and its modern incarnation was introduced in the US by Lester Wunderman. Direct marketing companies depend on their network of customers cum salespersons who both buy and sell their products.

''We have 1.5 lakh members in 22 states including the Northeast, who have achieved sales turnover of over Rs 40 crore annualy, and we plan to increase that number to five lakh shortly,'' says Shah. His company is now eyeing the south India market for expansion. The company has also laid out plans to tieup with malls and shopping centres like mutli-billion direct marketing company Avon.

''One can be a member by just buying our products worth Rs 3,960, and our members range from bhelpuriwalas to doctors. Our profits are also distributed among our members,'' says Shah.

UNI ZC MAZ RSA KP0930

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