Despite consumer complaints about unsolicited commercial e-mail, the Direct Marketing Association yesterday released a study showing U.S. consumers spent $11.7 billion on products and services advertised in unsolicited messages. The DMA’s estimates, based on a survey of 1,000 consumers by polling firm ORC International, Princeton, NJ, found that consumers spent $32.5 billion in response to all legitimate solicited and unsolicited commercial e-mail in the year prior to November 2003. The nearly 40 million who made purchases in response to e-mail represent about 19 percent of U.S. adult consumers.
The DMA projects that 258.1 million purchases were made in response to commercial e-mail in the survey period, including 75.4 million in response to unsolicited e-mail. Unsolicited commercial e-mail represented 36 percent of all spending in response to commercial e-mail. The survey’s respondents reported spending more per order on unsolicited e-mail in their most recent purchase, an average of $155 per purchase versus $114 for solicited e-mail. The study included only responses to non-fraudulent commercial e-mail.