Mass marketing is distinguished from direct marketing in terms of the distance between the manufacturer and the ultimate user of the product. Mass marketing is characterized as having wide separation and indirect communication. A mass marketer, such as Nike, has very little direct contact with its customers and must distribute its product through various retail outlets alongside its competitors. Communication is impersonal, as evidenced by its national television and print advertising campaigns, couponing, and point-of-purchase displays. The success of mass marketing is contingent on the probability that within the huge audience exposed to the marketing strategy there exist sufficient potential customers interested in the product to make the strategy worthwhile.
Direct marketing establishes a somewhat personal relationship with the customer by first allowing the customer to purchase the product directly from the manufacturer and then communicating with the customer on a first-name basis. This type of marketing is experiencing tremendous growth. Apparently, marketers have tired of the waste associated with mass marketing and customers want more personal attention. Also, modern mechanisms for collecting and processing accurate mailing lists have greatly increased the effectiveness of direct marketing. Catalogue companies (Spiegel, J.C. Penney), telecommunications companies (Sprint), and direct mail companies (Publishers Clearing House) are example of direct marketers. A modified type of direct marketing is represented by companies that allow ordering of product by calling a toll-free number or mailing in an order card as part of an advertisement.
Although (officially), Internet marketing is a type of direct marketing, it has evolved so quickly and demanded the attention of so many companies that a separate section here is warranted. Essentially, Internet technology (which changes by the moment) has created a new way of doing business. In the Internet age, the way consumers evaluate and follow through on their purchase decisions has changed significantly. "Call now!" is no longer an effective pitch. Consumers have control over how, when, and where they shop on the Internet. The Internet has all but eliminated the urgency of satisfying the need when the opportunity is presented.