INTERNET: What pulls you to the web at home? - David Murphy finds out which web sites marketers visit when they’re not in the office

The internet has become so indispensible in the workplace that many would be hard pushed to imagine life without it. But away from the office, the past couple of years have seen the internet moving into a rising number of UK homes. And no matter how often new figures are released, they still tend to make for pretty startling reading.

The internet has become so indispensible in the workplace that many

would be hard pushed to imagine life without it. But away from the

office, the past couple of years have seen the internet moving into a

rising number of UK homes. And no matter how often new figures are

released, they still tend to make for pretty startling reading.



The latest statistics released by research company Jupiter

Communications, for example, show that by the end of the year, 5.4

million UK households, some 23% of the UK total, will be online. While

the UK figure may still lag behind some other European countries, such

as the Netherlands (29%), and the Scandinavian countries - Norway and

Denmark each boast 38% penetration and Sweden an incredible 47% - the

trend is indisputably upward.



The 5.4 million figure is more than double the 1998 figure of 2.6

million and is projected to continue rising to 7.1 million (30%

penetration) by the end of 2001 and to 9.8 million (41%) by the end of

2003. Meanwhile, in the US online retailers clocked up dollars 33bn of

sales, accounting for 1.4% of all US retail sales in 1999, according to

a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group and the online retailing

trade association Shop.org.



So with web access from home fast becoming the norm, we quizzed three

senior UK marketers about what they do on the web when they are not

using it for work.





SAINSBURY’S



Sara Weller, marketing director, Sainsbury’s



How many hours a week do you spend online at home?



Two hours per week at home - mainly at the weekends.



What was your last purchase online?



I recently made some fairly big financial investments online. Having

started off researching the products online, I then found a broker on

the web and completed the transaction by e-mail. It was only at the end

that I had to resort to the phone to get the final rebate sorted

out.



I have also recently bought a short break with Disney online, books and

flowers for Mother’s Day.



Which sites do you visit most frequently and why?



I like functional sites that save me time. I do my banking online, a

legacy I suppose of my previous job as marketing director for Abbey

National.



I also use the web to check out things like rail travel times, flights

and holiday prices because travel agents are never open when I am

free.



What frustrates you most about the web?



Sites that have too many graphics,take too long to load and often

collapse just as you get to the crunch point. When you want to book, all

the travel sites seem to return to ’old fashioned’ routes.



What is the most unusual/innovative site you have visited?



I probably don’t find the really strange sites because I tend to go for

the ones I know will do the job quickly. I do frequent the financial

site Motley Fool (www.fool.com), and I also love the Grenada tourist

site www.grenada.org, where you feel like you are almost on the beach by

the hotel.





COMPAQ



Hamish Haynes, marketing communications director, Compaq



How many hours a week do you spend online at home?



About one hour per night and a couple of hours at the weekend.



What was your last purchase online?



A 2500-year-old Greek silver coin from Athens! I bought it via Amazon

auctions. Before that I bought a Roman coin from the Emperor Tiberius’

reign.



I collect ancient coins as a hobby and the internet gives me access to

thousands of similar collectors worldwide in a way that was impossible

before.



What sites do you visit most frequently and why?



Mainly the coin sites such as www.historicalcoins.com and amazon’s

auction pages at www.amazon.co.uk, but also DVD movie reviews and film

review pages. I use the web for information - prices, specifications and

to know what is going on and where.



What frustrates you most about the web?



Very little. The minor frustrations of occasional dropped lines and page

delays are vastly compensated by the wealth of diverse stuff out

there.



What is the most unusual/innovative site you have visited?



One of the most entertaining sites that I still come back to is the

Bluemountain Arts postcard site www.bluemountain. com where you can

e-mail anyone with an animated postcard message - complete with

music.



There seem to be hundreds of ’cards’ you can choose - all free - and

they can all be customised with your own message and a choice of

music.



I defy anyone to visit the site without ending up sending a card to

someone for a laugh. For me, this typifies the best of the internet -

accessible to everyone, able to be customised, fun and free.



Another cool site that I use all the time is the UK street map site

www.streetmap.co.uk. When I am going to a meeting and am not sure where

it is, I use the post code feature which identifies the exact

location.



I can then print out the map - it’s often better than the instructions I

get from the company I am visiting.





CARAT



William Corke, marketing director, Carat



How many hours a week do you spend online at home?



Two small children do limit the time available for surfing during the

day, all those buttons are just too tempting. I probably spend two to

three hours a week online at home for play, and considerably more than

this for work - on research, checking clients’ sites, or at our own site

www.brand-launch.com.



What was your last purchase online?



I’m not sure I should admit this, but it was a Bolex P1 8mm zoom reflex

cine camera picked up this week at www.ebay.com for a song.



What sites do you visit most frequently and why?



The sites I visit most regularly at home fall into two categories, hobby

and retail. I’m into all sorts of odd things - old Italian cars,

Bosendorfer pianos. The attraction of retail sites for me is in the

thrill of the chase, as new stuff is up for sale every time you drop in.

It’s the ultimate window shopping experience.



On the hobby side, my interest in old Lancias takes me to the excellent

www.viva-lancia.com site every couple of weeks or so.



What frustrates you most about the web?



Pictures that don’t load, slow connections and people who don’t keep

their promises.



What is the most unusual/innovative site you have visited?



I spend a lot of time working in the new economy so www.enormicom.com

provides a welcome antidote to some of the hysteria. It’s a satirical

site and part of a network that includes the well-known.



Discussion

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