Each month we ask the person responsible for a major company's internet strategy about their use of the web. We determine their surfing habits, where they think the net is going and what their business is doing on the web. This month Robin Auld, Carlsberg's senior brand manager at Carlsberg-Tetley, tells us about his net gains.
When did you become interested in the internet?
Probably about two years ago, mainly through word of mouth from friends.
What interested me was the 'uncharted territory' - the net opened up, particularly in terms of its ability to change the relationship between brand and consumer. About a year ago my brief broadened to include Carlsberg-Tetley's new-media strategy.
How much time do you spend surfing each day?
Half an hour or so - not as much as I'd like.
Which sites do you use each week?
I look at our competitors like CarlingNet.com and Heineken.com, as well as football news sites such as soccernet.com and football365.co.uk. I normally use lastminute.com for holidays, amazon.co.uk for books and a site called mytaxi.co.uk, which searches for CDs, books and also holidays, clothes etc.
Who are your advisers?
AKQA is responsible for building and maintaining the site, implementing a brief from us. We use it like we would any other agency, such as advertising or PR.
What is your company's web strategy?
To build the brand by building customer relationships and to develop consumer involvement with the brand. We feel our new-media strategy should be seamlessly integrated with the rest of our marketing strategy. Thus the Carlsberg site adds a unique third dimension to our football sponsorship. Before the England vs Scotland Euro 2000 play-offs, for example, we had Kevin Keegan and David Seaman in for a live chat; it attracted 30,000 hits in one hour. One-off events such as that are great for driving traffic to the site. We are aware that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels, though - customers must have a valid reason for returning. Too many sites out there are 'one-hit wonders'. We need to make Carlsberg a fundamental part of people's web lifestyle, whether they log on every day or once a month.
What is the most significant change the internet will bring about?
I think it will put much more power in consumers' hands by side-stepping traditional distribution networks. With the net, the smallest brand in the world can have the same presence as the biggest, so companies will have to listen to consumers more. It also makes building a one-to-one relationship with consumers much easier: rather than broadcast one message to everyone you can talk to people individually. More fundamentally, the internet eases communication between people, so distance becomes less of an issue, and I think this will be of tremendous benefit to society as a whole. A recent report I read said that the net could have a greater effect on society than the Industrial Revolution and I think that's probably true.