Internet Special Report Europe's Enticing E-markets (1,780 wo
Like the United States, the United Kingdom has one of the most innovative e-business cultures, which includes strong content providers. It has a sophisticated online population that's expected to grow to 25 million users by 2003, and it includes many of Europe's early adopters who have a history of direct buying using credit cards, unlike most other European consumers.
Most U.K. online users generally have higher-than-average incomes and are most interested in buying travel products, CDs, books, videos, flowers, food, beverages and clothing.
Caveat: Don't assume the common language means it's an extension of the United States. Much more than the Atlantic Ocean separates these two countries. Do your homework to discover important cultural differences.
The bottom line: This country's excellent infrastructure and wide acceptance of the Internet make it a top European market.
For more than 20 years, France was a European technological leader with its Minitel system, an Internet precursor that allows users to buy theater tickets, check phone numbers, access train schedules and more. This system, which has 17 million users and $1 billion in annual purchases, is unlikely to compete well against the Internet in the long run, however. The Internet is gaining ground in France, and it's expected there will be about 15 million users online by 2003. Currently, most French online buyers look for computers, CDs, books, travel and tourism.
Caveat: Language is a key issue in this market. While most Internet sites are in English, French users prefer sites in their native tongue. Use local marketing help to give you an edge in understanding the cultural and linguistic nuances of this important market.
The bottom line: The conversion of Minitel users to the Internet will be a great boon, but your Web site must appear as local as possible.