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Web Aggregators in Financial Services - UK - June 2012

“Mintel’s consumer research shows that price comparison sites are often seen as a great starting point or a useful research tool, but not all users are prepared to complete their purchase through the aggregator channel. Providers face a challenge to change perceptions and ensure that more people are happy to buy products through such sites.”

– Deborah Osguthorpe, Senior Financial Services Analyst

Some questions answered in this report include:

  • What will the acquisition of MoneySavingExpert.com by Moneysupermarket.com mean for the financial aggregator sector?
  • Is there any differentiation in the aggregator market?
  • How important is it to be a preferred brand in the price comparison site market?
  • Why do some aggregator users go directly to product providers to complete their purchase?
  • How concerned are consumers about the way that their personal data are used by price comparison sites?
  • How serious is the threat posed by Google?

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • A note about fieldwork
        • Abbreviations and definitions
        • Executive Summary

            • The market
              • Nearly 75% of the online population have used price comparison sites
                • Figure 1: Financial products researched/purchased through aggregator sites, March 2012
              • Almost one in four have researched at least five different products
                • Figure 2: Repertoire of products researched and purchased through aggregator sites*, March 2012
              • Market factors
                • Evolution in online activity
                  • Companies, brands and innovations
                    • Moneysupermarket.com leads the way in unique visitor numbers
                      • Figure 3: Share of unique visitors to major financial services price comparison websites, 12-month average, March 2010-February 2012
                    • Trust correlates with brand size
                      • Figure 4: Attitudes towards and usage of brands in the web aggregators sector, April 2012
                    • The consumer
                      • A variety of approaches to selecting a price comparison site
                        • Figure 5: Aggregator site selection, March 2012
                      • Only one in four rely on a single site when searching for a product
                        • Figure 6: Approach taken when using an aggregator site, March 2012
                      • Coverage and transparency are the main areas for concern
                        • Figure 7: Agreement with attitudes towards aggregators, March 2012
                      • One in three users have switched from an aggregator to a product provider
                        • Figure 8: Reasons why aggregator users opt to go direct to product provider, March 2012
                      • Functional qualities top the list of aggregator associations
                        • What we think
                        • Issues in the Market

                            • What will the acquisition of MoneySavingExpert.com by Moneysupermarket.com mean for the financial aggregator sector?
                              • Is there any differentiation in the aggregator market?
                                • How important is it to be a preferred brand in the price comparison site market?
                                  • Why do some aggregator users go directly to product providers to complete their purchase?
                                    • How concerned are consumers about the way that their personal data are used by price comparison sites?
                                      • How serious is the threat posed by Google?
                                      • Future Opportunities

                                        • Taking a more personalised approach to create differentiation
                                          • Tackling personal data concerns through quick quote facility
                                            • Comparing products on the go
                                            • Online Trends

                                              • Key points
                                                • Broadband penetration has begun to level off
                                                  • Figure 9: Broadband penetration, 2006-11
                                                • Smartphone internet use is becoming more widespread
                                                  • Figure 10: Methods of accessing the internet, January 2012
                                                • Conducting financial activities online
                                                  • Figure 11: Online activities in the last three months, April 2012
                                                • Mobile car insurance comparison services lead the way
                                                  • Adapting to the ubiquity of social networking sites
                                                    • Is trust still an issue?
                                                      • Figure 12: Agreement with selected statements about using the internet, 2007-11
                                                  • Sites Used to Research Financial Services

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • Comparethemarket.com is front of mind among consumers
                                                        • Figure 13: Aggregator sites used, March 2012
                                                      • 50% of aggregator users have used at least five different sites
                                                        • Figure 14: Repertoire of aggregator sites used, March 2012
                                                      • Frequent aggregator users are the least loyal
                                                        • Figure 15: Aggregator sites used, by repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                      • Marketing strategies need to deliver financial benefits to attract frequent users
                                                        • Comparethemarket.com leads the way with single-site users
                                                          • Figure 16: Aggregator sites used, by repertoire of aggregator sites used, March 2012
                                                      • Aggregator Site Usage

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Moneysupermarket.com leads in share of site visits
                                                            • Figure 17: Share of unique visitors to major financial services price comparison websites, 12-month average, March 2010-February 2012
                                                            • Figure 18: Unique visitor numbers to key aggregator websites, year to February 2012
                                                          • Acquisition of MSE should boost usage figures for Moneysupermarket.com
                                                            • uSwitch.com has dramatically increased website traffic
                                                              • Figure 19: Number of unique visitors to key aggregator websites, March 2011-February 2012
                                                            • Meerkat marketing boosts visitor numbers for comparethemarket.com
                                                            • Company Profiles

                                                              • BeatThatQuote.com
                                                                  • Figure 20: Financial performance of beatthatquote.com Ltd, 2010 and 2011
                                                                • Comparethemarket.com
                                                                    • Figure 21: Financial performance of BISL Ltd*, 2010 and 2011
                                                                  • Confused.com
                                                                      • Figure 22: Financial results for confused.com, 2010 and 2011
                                                                      • Figure 23: Aggregate financial performance of Admiral Group’s price comparison websites, 2009-11
                                                                    • Gocompare.com
                                                                        • Figure 24: Financial results for gocompare.com, 2009 and 2010
                                                                      • Moneysupermarket.com
                                                                          • Figure 25: Financial performance of moneysupermarket.com, 2010 and 2011*
                                                                        • Tescocompare.com
                                                                            • Figure 26: Financial performance of Tesco Compare, 2009/10 and 2010/11*
                                                                          • uSwitch.com
                                                                              • Figure 27: Financial performance of uSwitch Ltd, 2009 and 2010*
                                                                          • Brand Research

                                                                            • Brand map
                                                                                • Figure 28: Attitudes towards and usage of brands in the web aggregators sector, April 2012
                                                                              • Correspondence analysis
                                                                                • Brand attitudes
                                                                                  • Figure 29: Attitudes, by web aggregators brand, April 2012
                                                                                • Brand personality
                                                                                  • Figure 30: Web aggregator brand personality – macro image, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 31: Web aggregators brand personality – micro image, April 2012
                                                                                • Brand experience
                                                                                  • Figure 32: Web aggregator brand usage, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 33: Satisfaction with various web aggregator brands, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 34: Consideration of web aggregator brands, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 35: Consumer perceptions of current web aggregator brand performance, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 36: Web aggregator brand recommendation – Net Promoter Score, April 2012
                                                                                • Brand index
                                                                                  • Figure 37: Web aggregators brand index, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 38: Web aggregators brand index vs. recommendation, April 2012
                                                                                • Target group analysis
                                                                                  • Figure 39: Target groups, April 2012
                                                                                  • Figure 40: Web aggregator brand usage, by target groups, April 2012
                                                                                • Group One – Conformists
                                                                                  • Group Two – Simply the Best
                                                                                    • Group Three – Shelf Stalkers
                                                                                      • Group Four – Habitual Shoppers
                                                                                        • Group Five – Individualists
                                                                                        • Brand Communication and Promotion

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Aggregator adspend increased by 20% in 2011/12
                                                                                              • Figure 41: Overview of advertising expenditure in the financial aggregator market, 2009/10-2011/12*
                                                                                            • The big four spent more than £100 million on adspend in 2011/12
                                                                                              • Figure 42: Advertising expenditure by selected financial aggregators, 2009/10-2011/12
                                                                                            • Moneysupermarket.com and uSwitch spend less per visitor
                                                                                              • Figure 43: Average monthly advertising expenditure and average monthly visitor numbers, by selected financial aggregators, 2011/12
                                                                                            • TV continues to dominate aggregator adspend
                                                                                              • Figure 44: Financial aggregator adspend, by media type, 2009/10-2011/12*
                                                                                              • Figure 45: Financial aggregator adspend among selected sites, by media type, 2011/12*
                                                                                            • A note about adspend
                                                                                            • Products Arranged and Researched Through Aggregators

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • Insurance products continue to lead the way in aggregator usage
                                                                                                  • Figure 46: Products researched/purchased through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                • Aggregators face a challenge to maintain growth in car insurance
                                                                                                  • Around one in four have researched at least five different products
                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Products researched through aggregator sites, by repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                  • More affluent are among the keenest users
                                                                                                    • Purchasing activity is more limited
                                                                                                      • Figure 49: Repertoire of products purchased through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Products purchased through aggregator sites, by repertoire of products purchased through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                  • Aggregator Selection Process

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Only one in four aggregator users have a favourite site they always use
                                                                                                        • Figure 51: Aggregator site selection, March 2012
                                                                                                      • Google could make inroads with its new comparison service
                                                                                                        • Having a favoured site does not prevent users from checking other sites…
                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Repertoire of aggregator sites used, by aggregator site selection, March 2012
                                                                                                        • …or improve the likelihood to research additional products
                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, by aggregator site selection, March 2012
                                                                                                        • Purchasing activity is higher among those with a favourite site
                                                                                                          • Figure 54: Repertoire of products purchased through aggregator sites, by aggregator site selection, March 2012
                                                                                                        • Two thirds use several price comparisons when looking for a product
                                                                                                          • Figure 55: Approach taken when using an aggregator site, March 2012
                                                                                                        • Opportunities for an aggregator of aggregators?
                                                                                                          • Single-site users split between loyal customers and random searchers
                                                                                                            • Figure 56: Aggregator site selection, by approach taken when using an aggregator site, March 2012
                                                                                                          • Frequent users are more likely to take a methodical approach
                                                                                                            • Figure 57: Approach taken when using an aggregator site, by repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                            • Figure 58: Approach taken when using an aggregator site, by repertoire of products purchased through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                        • Attitudes Towards Aggregators

                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                            • Some room for improvement but main criticisms do not deter users
                                                                                                              • Figure 59: Attitudes towards aggregators, March 2012
                                                                                                              • Figure 60: Attitudes towards aggregators, by repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                            • Concerns about marketing communication and personal data usage
                                                                                                              • Conflicting opinions over price comparison site differentiation
                                                                                                                • Figure 61: Attitudes towards aggregators, by aggregator site selection, March 2012
                                                                                                                • Figure 62: Attitudes towards aggregators, by approach taken when using an aggregator site, March 2012
                                                                                                            • Switching From Aggregators to Direct Channels

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                • One in three aggregator users have switched to direct channels
                                                                                                                  • Figure 63: Proportion of consumers who have switched to direct channels after using an aggregator, March 2012
                                                                                                                • Extensive users are more likely to switch to direct channels
                                                                                                                  • Figure 64: Switching activity after using an aggregator, by repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                                  • Figure 65: Switching activity after using an aggregator, by repertoire of products purchased through aggregator sites, March 2012
                                                                                                                • Switchers are more concerned about aggregator limitations
                                                                                                                  • Figure 66: Agreement with attitudes towards aggregators, by switching activity after using an aggregator, March 2012
                                                                                                                • 50% of switchers want to check if they get a better deal by going direct
                                                                                                                  • Figure 67: Reasons why aggregator users opt to go direct to product provider, March 2012
                                                                                                                • Scope for a quick quote facility?
                                                                                                                • Aggregator Associations

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Functional attributes top the list
                                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Aggregator associations, March 2012
                                                                                                                    • Market coverage appears to be growing concern
                                                                                                                      • Figure 69: Aggregator associations, 2010-12
                                                                                                                    • More extensive users are more likely to identify positive characteristics
                                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, by aggregator associations, March 2012
                                                                                                                    • Systematic searchers are less likely to see aggregators as a starting point
                                                                                                                      • Figure 71: Aggregator associations, by approach taken when using an aggregator site, March 2012
                                                                                                                    • Switchers to direct channels are less likely to see time-saving benefits
                                                                                                                      • Figure 72: Aggregator associations, by consumers who opt to go direct after using an aggregator, March 2012
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Sites Used to Research Financial Services

                                                                                                                    • Sites used in last 12 months
                                                                                                                      • Figure 73: Most popular aggregator sites have used in the last 12 months, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 74: Next most popular aggregator sites have used in the last 12 months, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                    • Sites used but not in last 12 months
                                                                                                                      • Figure 75: Most popular aggregator sites have used but not in the last 12 months, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 76: Next most popular aggregator sites have used but not in the last 12 months, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 77: Repertoire of aggregator sites used, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Brand Research

                                                                                                                      • Figure 78: Brand usage, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 79: Brand commitment, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 80: Brand momentum, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Brand diversity, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Brand satisfaction, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 83: Brand recommendation, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 84: Brand attitude, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 85: Brand image – macro image, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 86: Brand image – micro image, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 87: Profile of target groups, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 88: Psychographic segmentation, by target group, April 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 89: Brand usage, by target group, April 2012
                                                                                                                    • Brand index
                                                                                                                      • Figure 90: Brand index, April 2012
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Products Researched and Purchased Through Aggregators

                                                                                                                    • Products researched
                                                                                                                      • Figure 91: Most popular products researched through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 92: Next most popular products researched through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 93: Other products researched through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 94: Repertoire of products researched through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                    • Products purchased through aggregators
                                                                                                                      • Figure 95: Most popular products purchased through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 96: Next most popular products purchased through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 97: Other products purchased through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 98: Repertoire of products purchased through aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Aggregator Selection Process

                                                                                                                      • Figure 99: Aggregator site selection process, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 100: Approach taken when using aggregator sites, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Attitudes towards Aggregators

                                                                                                                      • Figure 101: Attitudes towards aggregators, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 102: Attitudes towards aggregators, by demographics, March 2012 (continued)
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Switching From Aggregators to Direct Channels

                                                                                                                      • Figure 103: Agreement with statement about switching from price comparison sites to direct channels, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 104: Most popular reasons why aggregator users opt to go direct to product provider, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 105: Next most popular reasons why aggregator users opt to go direct to product provider, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Aggregator Associations

                                                                                                                      • Figure 106: Most popular aggregator associations, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 107: Next most popular aggregator associations, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 108: Other aggregator associations, by demographics, March 2012
                                                                                                                      • Figure 109: Least popular aggregator associations, by demographics, March 2012

                                                                                                                  Companies Covered

                                                                                                                  • Admiral Insurance
                                                                                                                  • Argos
                                                                                                                  • Aviva Plc
                                                                                                                  • BeatThatQuote.com
                                                                                                                  • BGL Group
                                                                                                                  • Callcredit plc
                                                                                                                  • ComparetheMarket.com
                                                                                                                  • Confused.com
                                                                                                                  • Daily Mail
                                                                                                                  • Devitt Insurance Services
                                                                                                                  • E. W. Scripps Company, The
                                                                                                                  • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                  • Forward Internet Group
                                                                                                                  • GoCompare
                                                                                                                  • Google UK
                                                                                                                  • Groupon, Inc.
                                                                                                                  • Legal & General Group PLC
                                                                                                                  • LivingSocial
                                                                                                                  • London Stock Exchange plc
                                                                                                                  • Moneysavingexpert
                                                                                                                  • MoneySupermarket.com Limited
                                                                                                                  • MSN UK
                                                                                                                  • Nectar
                                                                                                                  • NSPCC
                                                                                                                  • Office of Fair Trading
                                                                                                                  • Publicis (UK)
                                                                                                                  • Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc
                                                                                                                  • Tesco Personal Finance Limited
                                                                                                                  • Towergate Partnership
                                                                                                                  • Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest Ltd
                                                                                                                  • Yahoo! UK & Ireland
                                                                                                                  • YMCA England

                                                                                                                  Web Aggregators in Financial Services - UK - June 2012

                                                                                                                  £2,195.00 (Excl.Tax)