New study shows poor Web culture

Dot-com businesses are in danger of “seriously overestimating” the sophistication of online consumers, according to a new report.

The study, Voices from the e-World, published by Hauck Research International, suggests dot-coms are less in touch with consumer needs and wants than traditional companies with a Web presence.

Despite the common belief among Internet start-ups that they are champions of the consumer, the report shows a lack of consumer-focused research in the dot-com sector.

Liz Hauck, chief executive of Hauck Research International, says: “There is clear evidence that consumers are bookmarking a much more limited number of websites than you would expect. Many are just going through their ISP and that is their only frame of reference for the Web.”

Hauck found that even young consumers “lack sophistication” in the number of sites they use.

Hauck carried out “extended-depth interviews” with a small sample of consumers and companies. “This is qualitative rather than quantitative research, but we think we’ve uncovered some interesting insights.

“The lack of sophistication of consumers online was news to all the companies involved in this report, but it was particularly relevant to the dot-commers because they have done relatively limited consumer research themselves.

“There is a need to develop transactional, interactive sites that both replicate the consumer thinking process and offer something experiential. All too often, instead of looking deeper into the online consumer’s needs, desires and apprehensions, the technical aspects of website design become the main focus.”

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