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Comfort Index' reveals the Internet is gaining on the forecourt as the most popular way to buy a car, but expensive advertising campaigns are failing to raise brand awareness


OneSwoop, the UK's leading Internet car retailer today issued research underlining that the awareness level of online car retailers, some having spent several million on advertising and marketing, is no higher than those sites who choose not to advertise - with no online car retailer polling more than 4 per cent awareness. The findings are contained in the first part of the OneSwoop 'Comfort Index' - quarterly research into online consumer confidence conducted by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB). A fuller commentary will appear in the January issue of The Net, the leading consumer Internet monthly and the report is available on the OneSwoop web-site (www.oneswoop.com).


The survey showed that although the British public is beginning to overcome enertia - its adherence to traditional 'Bricks and Mortar' buying habits - mass advertising by dotcom businesses is failing to drive brand awareness. Consumers are gradually becoming more Internet savvy and are beginning to take advantage of the Internet's lower prices and convenience. The increasing popularity of the Internet is shown by the fact that, of the 2000 individuals polled, nearly one third (31%) had used the Internet in any form and two brands - Amazon.com and Tesco Online (neither of which rely extensively on advertising) - received unprompted awareness from more than 20% of interviewees.

However, dotcoms spending large amounts on mass-market advertising, including some online car retailers, rated lower in the survey. Both Jungle.com (7%) and LetsbuyIt.com (6%) could not muster unprompted awareness from more than one in ten interviewees. The recently bankrupted Boxman e-tailer did not receive a single unprompted recall.

Tom Buehlmann, marketing director, OneSwoop, said, "The OneSwoop Comfort Index is a snapshot of consumer confidence and we aim to track how this changes over time. The first set of research underlines the 'early adopter' nature of e-commerce in the UK. Clearly, Internet retailers must do more to overcome enertia by building compelling sites that combine value pricing with ease of use. While this must be a slap in the face for many Internet retailers, it vindicates the OneSwoop strategy of focusing on cost, service, convenience and security. We are also reassured that investing in these areas is the right way to develop online brands like OneSwoop: heavy consumer advertising - particularly by Internet car retailers - only hiked the 'burn rate' and dented investor's confidence that this is money well spent."

Consumer attitudes to 'Bricks and Mortar' environments varied enormously. 12% of respondents listed the Internet among the most pleasurable places to make a purchase: this compared favourably with car showrooms (14%) and estate agents (a mere 2%), although 37% of respondents cited bookshops as being pleasurable with the figure for travel agents being 25% and that for supermarkets being 24%.

The Internet's growing popularity among the general public as a pleasurable place to make a purchase demonstrates the success of online car retailers, led by OneSwoop, in offering both competitive prices and excellent levels of service. Indeed, the top three enticements to buying online were lower prices (64%), tightened security (41%) and ease of ordering (32%), with improved customer service (8%) and brand awareness (10%) also taken into consideration. The recommendation of a friend was considered important by 20% of respondents.

The comfort factor for low value, commodity items was high, with 54% of respondents willing to buy CDs online and 48% willing to buy books. Holidays received a relatively high comfort factor of 42%, and insurance received a 24% rating. Higher value items such as cars (12%) and houses (8%) scored lower.

Matthew Bingham, editor, the net magazine said, "What the Comfort Index shows is an e-commerce market in transition. We're hardly surprised by the fact that people are buying books from Amazon -powerful brands like these have already started to drive consolidation in their market. However, there are a number of areas where the figures are more surprising and which underline the fluid nature of many e-commerce markets. There is clearly a great deal of consumer dissatisfaction with car showrooms, travel agencies and estate agencies which, together with the potential of price savings offered by Internet retailers and the lack of a dominant online brand, indicate that there is a lot to play for in these markets."

About OneSwoop:
Launched in March 2000, OneSwoop is the leading pan-European online car retailer offering three easy ways to buy a car - OneSwoop Now, OneSwoop Custom and OneSwoop Express. The company specialises in a no haggle, no hassle service - delivering both custom and pre-configured cars directly to customers at up to 25 per cent off UK retail prices in as little as three weeks.

OneSwoop is backed by a number of prestigious financial and strategic investors from Europe and the US, including BP, Credit Suisse and Atlas Venture. It numbers amongst its partners such respected organisations as Fortis Bank, Marks & Spencer, SGS and Transcars (STVA).

About the net:
the net is Britain's best-selling internet magazine. IT covers everything you need to know to get the best out of the Net including: recommendations on the best sites; shopping on line; best internet bargains; e-commerce; tips and hints on using the Internet and email.
Priced £2.75 the net is available in all good bookstores.

Notes:
1./ Report to be posted Wednesday 6 December 2000 and will be located at
www.oneswoop.com/press.

For Further Information:
Matt Ward/Lena Ahmed
Brodeur Worldwide
Tel: 01753 790700
Email: mward@uk.brodeur.com / Email:lahmed@uk.brodeur.com

Helen Leek
OneSwoop
Tel: 020 8222 0800
Email: helen.leek@oneswoop.com

For interviews with Matthew Bingham, editor, the net, please contact Hazel Van
Wieringen on 0208 943 5000.

OneSwoop / The Net Survey Results Summary


· Top Five Online Brands

Brand Awareness Level

1. Amazon.co.uk 39%
2. Tesco Online 23%
3. Sainsburys Online 9%
4. Jungle.com 7%
5. WH Smith Online 6%


· Top Six Products Considered Purchasing Online

Product Percentage who would consider purchase

1. CDs 54%
2. Books 48%
3. Holidays 42%
4. Electrical Goods 29%
5. Insurance 25%
6. A car 12%


· Top Six Factors Encouraging Online Purchases

Factor Percentage of shoppers encouraged

1. Lower prices 64%
2. Tightened security 41%
3. Ease of ordering 32%
4. Convenience of delivery 28%
5. Friend's recommendation 20%
6. Product visuals 11%


- Gender Variations - Male and Female buyers more confident buying different products

Product Percentage who would consider purchase

Male/Female
1. CDs 54%/53%
2. Books 46%/50%
3. Holidays 41%/43%
4. Electrical goods 36%/19%
5. Insurance 28%/23%
6. A car 16%/8%


· Age Variations - Older shoppers just as confident as younger shoppers

Aged 15-24/45-54
1. CDs 66%/48%
2. Books 43%/54%
3. Holidays 28%/45%
4. Electrical Goods 24%/29%
5. Insurance 15%/28%
6. A car 10%/14%

Source: Face to face BMRB survey of 2076 adults 15+ living in Great Britain, yielding a total sample of 617 Internet users.

-ends-

Brodeur Worldwide Contacts

Matt Ward
T+44 (0)1753 790700
F+44 (0)1753 790701
mward@uk.brodeur.com

Lena Ahmed
T+44 (0)1753 790700
F+44 (0)1753 790701
lahmed@uk.brodeur.com

Company Contacts

Helen Leek
T+44 (0)20 8222 0800
helen.leek@oneswoop.com

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Pleon in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Personal Finance, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.