Net poaching ‘waste of time’

Online service providers attemp- ting to lure customers from rival operators may be wasting their money on aggressive marketing campaigns, according to a recent InternetTrak survey.

Nick Smith, new media consultant at KPMG, says price still appears to be the main factor affecting the recruitment of home-based Net customers by rival operators, followed by recommendation of a friend or other trusted source.

The survey, conducted by NOP, revealed that two-thirds of people who subscribe to an online provider have remained with their original company.

“Service does not seem to be the main factor affecting selection in this market, and nor are disks offering 30-day free access trials,” says Smith.

“There has to be a major question mark over the usefulness of these offers, which are being heavily used by some operators.”

Data also suggests that e-commerce remains a minority pursuit among UK Web surfers, although 1.3 million claimed to have purchased online over the past three months, compared with a total of 5.9 million Britons who have some experience of browsing the Web.

But figures also suggest online consumers are increasingly searching the Web for product information across a range of product categories before proceeding with their purchase (see table).

Meanwhile, Which! Online’s annual Internet survey estimates that 14 per cent of the UK population are using the Internet – slightly higher than NOP’s estimate – and double that of a year ago. But despite the strong growth of UK Web surfing, the Which! survey suggests interest in e-commerce remains limited.

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