MSN reveals Internet consumer research

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LONDON -- Microsoft Network UK, the British operation of the commercial online service owned by software giant Microsoft Corp., has unveiled the results of a survey that it hopes will encourage advertisers to use online media effectively.

The U.K. survey, commissioned by MSN UK from Paris-based Bluesky International Marketing and U.S.-based E-valuations Research, will be followed by similar ventures in MSN in France, Germany and Japan in the near future.

"The purpose is to arm advertising agencies with information with which they can beat the heads of their clients and make advertisers realize they can advertise on the Web as well as offline," explains Tom Bowman, director of Microsoft Online Sales, UK.

The survey, conducted online via MSN's open Web site and involving more than 90 different brands, was taken from 1,548 responses. Brands analyzed included banks, cars, computers, soft drinks and magazines.

Initial conclusions focused on MSN itself. Most MSN users in the U.K. are upscale, highincome earners. Nearly 90% are men, with about 75% between 18 and 44 years old.

More than 50% of frequent visitors to the MSN Web site are willing to purchase goods and services online. Also, more than 70% say they are confident of making credit card transactions on the Web, despite prevailing fears of online fraud.

About 40% have actually bought computer-related products via the Internet, while more than 20% use the medium to buy their books and music.

Additionally, the survey revealed that more than 50% of MSN users earn about $41,300 a year, compared with 25% of average U.K. income-earners. Their jobs are in the mid- to upper-level management level, they are frequent business travelers and several are car owners. Meanwhile, they are among the growing number of consumers who bank online.

According to Mr. Bowman, the results and the fact that MSN UK features editorial and services from 80 content partners make the survey an ideal base from which to analyze the Internet's impact on consumers' lifestyles.

For example, the questionnaire revealed that the Ford and Vauxhall brands are the most popular car brands with MSN users. About 28% of them preferred Ford, compared with 17% who liked Vauxhall.

Mr. Bowman argues that the gap between the two should prompt Vauxhall to realize why it needs to advertise on the Web to raise brand awareness among upscale consumers using MSN.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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