United Kingdom Newsletter - October, 2009

Specific to this issue:

Feature Article

Pre-Christmas sales searches

UK Internet searches for discount vouchers continue to increase: during the w/e 03/10/09 a portfolio of voucher-related searches was up 40% year-on-year. However, it's important not to underestimate the impact of a good old fashioned sale, particularly for high street retailers. As reported throughout the year, seasonal sales and discount days within the department store and fashion sectors have already had a significant impact on both web traffic and search behaviour.

The main difference between discount vouchers and sales is that, while the former have performed consistently well during the year, the latter are very much seasonal affairs. Given the months between the end of summer and Christmas are so important for retailers, they generally try to avoid offering discounts in order to maximise profits. Most of the shopping taking place during the 'golden quarter' is unavoidable, meaning there is little need to stoke demand further by offering unnecessary discounts. Of course, that is the 'usual' logic; during times of recession, conventional thinking sometimes requires a certain amount of modification.

Looking at the breadth of UK Internet searches for the keyword 'sales' (i.e. the number of different searches containing the term) over the last 18 months, searches for sales dropped off dramatically at the end of summer 2008 and did not properly recover until the week before Christmas. A similar trend seems to be emerging for 2009, but the post-summer decline has been less marked, while the late September spike has been larger. Overall, the level of sales searches during this period in 2009 is higher than it was in 2008.

Fast Movers

FIFA - www.fifa.com

Position for the week ending 29/08/2009: # 4,127
Position for the week ending 12/09/2009: # 484
Position Jumped: 3,643

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa still over 200 days away from its opening match, UK Internet traffic to www.fifa.com has already hit a three year high. For the week ending 12/09/09, the FIFA homepage jumped 3,643 places, ranking #484 among all websites.

A significant contribution to the spike in traffic occurred after the home match between England vs Croatia on 09/09/09, where England won 5-1 securing their spot in the World Cup. On the same day, the FIFA homepage soared to number 1 in the Sports - Football Category, picking up 1 in every 28 visits. The BBC was the biggest recipient of downstream traffic, with BBC Sports, BBC homepage and BBC News collectively picking up 6.33% of all traffic from www.fifa.com.

News In Brief

Searches for climate change and energy efficiency

With environmental concerns becoming increasingly important, it comes as no surprise that climate change was chosen as the topic for Blog Action Day '09. To look at climate change related searches online in the UK, two Hitwise search term portfolios were consulted: Environmental Concerns (searches for information about climate change e.g.'global warming' and 'carbon footprint') and Energy Saving/Efficiencies (searches relating to the practical steps people are actually making to combat climate change by consuming less energy e.g. 'loft insulation' and 'solar panels').

Based on volume of searches for these portfolios over the last two years, there are currently four times as many UK Internet searches for the Energy Saving/Efficiency portfolio as there are for Environmental Concerns. This gap has widened over time and reflects the gradual shift in attitudes towards climate change over the last few years; from people looking for information in order to understand the issues to more practical searches related to changing behaviours.

Increases in searches for the Environmental Concerns portfolio tend to occur as a result of climate change or global warming being in the news. The most recent increase was driven by two events: the Climate Camp protests and the upcoming intergovernmental climate change conference in Copenhagen. During these peaks, much of the search traffic goes to News and Media websites, but in general the largest recipient of traffic goes to information sites such as Wikipedia and the government's Act on CO2 campaign.

Searches for the Energy Savings/Efficiencies portfolio are less driven by news than seasonality. The most popular terms in the portfolio relate to heating homes or making them more efficient, with 'underfloor heating', 'cavity wall insulation', 'double glazing', 'heating oil prices', 'electricity prices' and 'winter fuel allowance' making up some of the top 10.

Read the full article.

How do people search for travel in the UK?

In the UK, Travel websites rely on search engines for two-fifths of their traffic. During August 09, the top 1,000 search terms sending traffic to websites within the Travel Category were categorized based on the type of things people were searching for, including Agencies/Holidays, Airports, Attractions, Car Hire, Cruises, Ferries, Flights, Hotels/Accommodation, Maps/Directions, Places, Train/Coach, Travel Material and Travel Review.

Looking at the UK data, it is a fairly evenly distribution across the categories, with Agencies/ Holidays the most searched for category. There are a large number of generic searches in this category ('holiday deals", 'travel agents', 'spa breaks') as consumers start their holiday research from a general base. Of all the markets, the UK also had the largest proportion of travel review sites (3%) - primarily branded searches for Tripadvisor when compared with the USA, Canada and Australia.

Methods of transport were heavily searched for in the UK, with Flights and Train/Coach searches each accounting for 16% (however flights were less searched for when compared to the other regions). A quarter of searches for trains and coaches were generic, relating to train times and tickets. The UK also has the largest number of ferry searches, mostly for French destinations.

People in the UK make the highest number of airport searches when compared with the other markets, with the regional airports featuring prominently. 'manchester airport' was the most searched for airport term (followed by Bristol, Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham airports). One key variation on airport searches is for airport parking, particularly for the big airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow.

This analysis was taken from a recent Global Travel Update Webinar and blog post, which in addition provides equivalent analysis for the US, Australia and Canada, looking at flight searches to and from the UK, most popular destinations in each country, top airlines and travel brands, plus the impact of social networking.

Read the full article.

Listen to the recording.


Recent Reports and Webinars

UK Insurance Webinar

This webinar provides an in-depth look at the Insurance sector exploring how people search for insurance products (car, home, travel, health, life, etc.) in the UK, the role of aggregators in the insurance market, how insurance companies are marketing their products online and consumer behaviour using Experian Financial Strategy Segments (FSS).

Listen to the recording.

Experian Insight Report - Predicting the impact consumer and financial stress will have on the public sector

Increasing pressures on finances in the public sector means there is more than ever a need to have greater efficiencies and 'do more with less'. This latest Insight report from Experian focuses on how central and local government can more accurately forecast revenue streams; protect revenues through effective management of 'bad debt' and 'fraud', and provide insight into how more successful collections strategies can in turn generate new revenue opportunities.

Download a copy of the report and register for the adjoining webinar.


Experian launches NEW Mosaic Public Sector&trade 2009

The new version of the UK's only citizen classification that focuses on public services

To reflect the changes that have occurred throughout the UK over the last 5 year, and to ensure that the market has the most accurate view of citizens and their public service needs, Experian has developed a completely new version of Mosaic Public Sector, identifying new customer groups and revealing new lifestyles and behaviours.

To see the changes Experian have made to Mosaic Public Sector, register for one of the six regional launch events.

To register or find out more, visit Experian Mosaic Public Sector.

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About this Newsletter

This monthly e-mail Newsletter is designed to provide Hitwise subscribers with analysis of new developments, industry trends and competitive activity. The powerful real-time web intelligence capabilities of Hitwise and a continual flow of additional research findings make this an indispensable business resource.