The Direct Marketing Association of the UK will this morning present the culmination of a unique three-stage programme of research and analysis, Responding to the Future part three. Highlights of the report are …

Direct comparisons of internet access and usage patterns between the UK, US, Canada and Ireland. The UK has still to catch up with the US, displaying a 27%difference in 1996 between users with internet access in the UK and the US; in 1999 this grew to 40%. In the US, the internet is used five times in a week, whereas in the UK only twice a week.

User characteristics. Different user groups display a cross-section in use and attitudes towards the internet; the groups include men and women, business people and new consumer users. New internet users forgive problems with websites, often blaming themselves or their computer as opposed to the website owner; this goodwill, however, lasts only eighteen months. By 2005 ninety-six per cent of all internet users will have been on-line for at least 18 months. But for business users in particular, negative experiences have real impact.

WAP-enabled mobile phones. M-commerce could be a fertile market if the technology is used in the right way. Mobile users are 50% more likely to purchase from the internet,while 50% of all internet users want to be able to send emails via their mobiles.

Group preferences. The report outlines consumer group preferences for different media and methods of communicating with companies, along with the integration of these media and methods. Help lines provided on internet sites are slated.

The report also addresses:

 Barriers to consumer confidence and trust in the new environment.

 Recommendations for improving service and increasing the levels of transactions on the web in the future.

 Sector comparisons - including financial services, travel/leisure, FMCG, retail, publishing and finally, business to business usage.

The Responding to the Future programme was set up in 1996 by the DMA and the Future Foundation in an attempt to understand the responsive consumer in new media and the emerging technology environment. It is sponsored this year by DMA members including Calcom, Amarach, Experian, Reader's Digest and Cable and Wireless.

News Source: Direct Marketing Association (UK)