We are in the middle of a digital revolution that is delivering more media
rich information into our homes and when we are on the move.
All major, and many medium size towns, now have cable TV.
Telephone service suppliers are increasing. They are accessing homes through
other means that the fixed wire from the local BT exchange. Systems like
cable and radio telephones, and there are satellite based services on the
22% of households now have at least one mobile phone. Pagers offer alternative
lower cost access to mobile users.
Digital TV with its 200 channels and interactive services is now definite
- the government is asking when it should phase out the analogue system.
In the US, TVs and telephones with Internet access can now be purchased.
These are promoted as easy to set-up and easy to use, mass consumer items.
New PCs and hi-fis come with CD players and most PCs are now Internet ready.
|In 1997 the percent of UK households owning:
|TV set (one or more)
|Source: Office for National Statistics
All these technologies are delivering a mass of information into people's
homes. To-day it is mostly entertainment based, but increasingly it will
be infotainment and later plain information services.
For more information on the various interactive
mediums, follow this link.
The end of mass broadcasting and a switch to narrow broadcasting, making
mass marketing techniques obsolete.
Consumers will be able to block electronic advertising. Companies will have
to pay consumers to listen and see promotions (either directly or by subsidising
other services (e.g. long distance telephone calls)).
Many of the new mediums allow interaction between consumers and suppliers.
They allow intangible products and services to be demonstrated and delivered
in a variety of ways according to consumer preferences: time, place, user
interface, level of expertise.
Consumers will be able to enter into learning relationships.
Technology Use and Literacy
Society is becoming increasingly technology literate. This is no longer
restricted to the young, who have been brought up to play with a variety
of electronic games. All ages of people can be found using telephone banking,
ATM, answerphones, fax machines, etc.. In an increasingly faster paced society,
the telephone has found particular favour with consumers. They seem to prefer
spending up to 60 minutes on the telephone doing a fact-find rather than
traipsing into town. The financial service marketplace has now been renamed
the financial service marketspace.
The UK has one of the highest penetrations of PCs in the home (4m) with many
young people having access from their school, college and university. Currently
only 10% of homes (0.4m) use the Internet. The remaining 0.6m Internet accounts
are presumed to be with commercial, government and not for profit organisations.
Nether-the-less, people who work for these organisations are being exposed
to the technology, to e-mail and information databases and to the Internet.
With the predicted high growth of the Internet, an ever increasing percentage
of the population will become accustomed to using it for information access
and for shopping:
Information access is considered to important for high value transactions
or those with a long term commitment, such as life insurance, investment
products and loans.
Shopping is more likely for commodity product items where the user already
knows what he or she is buying. Services and other intangibles such as insurance
and loans have higher barriers of acceptance.
Whether for information access or purchase, established brand names that
have a reputation for quality and service will inspire consumer confidence.
New entrants are using these low cost delivery
mechanisms, especially the telephone, to break into the financial services
Consumers will be able to comparison shop without leaving the comfort of
their arm chairs.
Electronic mediums offer far lower transaction
costs, though they need volume or higher margin products to offset the
Suppliers will be able to interact with consumers and allow them to
personalise and create their own unique
products and services. In the process the supplier gains intimate customer
knowledge and the customer builds his own switching barriers!
Arthur, Charles, Britain wired for fun, not wisdom, Independent, 25
more to follow ......
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