European Markets See Strong Growth in Net Users

More than 9 million new Internet users went online in the UK, Germany, and France, according to a survey published by the NOP Research Group.

The French market, in particular, was suffering from a couple of years of relative stagnancy, and is now showing the fastest growth rates of adoption, with 47 percent market growth in the last year, compared with 33 percent in Britain and 22 percent in Germany. Based on current trends, the total online population across the three countries should reach at least 52 million by the end of the year.

The Euro.Net survey also found that among consumers in the three leading EU economies, satisfaction with ISPs was significantly higher in the UK, where 38 percent of users declared themselves to be “very satisfied” with their provider, compared to 20 percent in France and 17 percent in Germany.

British Internet users are more likely to be the early adopters of new Internet access devices, with 23 percent planning to access via Digital TV and 15 percent via their mobile phone by the end of the year.

“With British consumers likely to be the early adopters of new Internet access devices, such as Digital TV and mobile phones, the British market should continue to see good steady growth,” said Richard Jameson. “Awareness of WAP technology is now significant in the main European markets and interest in WAP adoption suggests the potential for 5 million mobile Internet users by the end of 2000. Content providers will need to re-define their strategies for a new audience demanding mobile Internet services.”

All three countries saw significant growth in online shopping in 1999, between them generating 6.5 million online shoppers. With 3.1 million Web users having shopped online in the last four weeks to December 1999, the UK again took the lead, closely followed by Germany’s 2.9 million online shoppers. France saw a marked increase in online shoppers, but is still a way behind, with less than 700,000 shopping in the last four weeks.

Online shopping in the UK is predicted to exceed £10 billion this year, according to NOP’s Internet User Profile Survey, which found more than 10 million of the Web’s regular 12 million users had shopped online in the four weeks before Christmas, a three-fold increase over the same period in 1998. NOP estimates that British consumers spent £3.2 billion online in 1999.

The biggest growth category for online sales in the UK is groceries, according to NOP, with 200,000 people doing at least some of their everyday shopping through the Web. Online book buying continues to be extremely popular, with the number of Web users buying books increasing by more than 50 percent in 1999. Almost half (49 percent) of all Web users now buy books online; 31 percent buy CDs or music.

“Contrary to some recent speculation, the online shopping experience remains a generally positive one, with shoppers planning significant increases in their spending in 2000,” Jameson said. “Online grocery shopping is beginning to make its mark and supermarket home delivery vans will become an increasingly popular site.”

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