Database marketing programs are attracting increasing amounts of companies’ marketing resources and talents. But too often, marketers ignore consumer fears about the widespread availability and use of personal information. Innovative marketing tactics provoke a consumer backlash that can lead to restrictive legislation. The authors analyze the conflicting perspectives on database marketing and suggest some guidelines for companies to use for improving both the practice of database marketing and its climate. The best approach is to follow the “sunshine principle,” they argue, and allow consumers more access to and control over the information concerning them.
The authors gratefully acknowledge Mary Culnan of Georgetown University, F. Warren McFarlan of the Harvard Business School, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.