Has Mr Go Compare really had his day?
The string of highly amusing* recent TV ads showing various celebrities and award-winning physicists obliterating the Go Compare opera singer may actually have been ahead of the game. Things are not so rosy in the garden of price comparison, with poor results and dim prospects suggesting the bottom may have fallen out of this particular market.
The reason, according to the founder of Confused.com’s parent Admiral thinks the reason is market saturation. According to Henry Engelhardt, there just “aren't that many new people left" who don’t already know about comparison sites. He also thinks that fewer people can even be bothered shopping around given that our existing insurers are getting wise to the fact and are offering lower-premium renewals to pre-empt a comparison switch.
If he’s right, this is good news for consumers- particularly lazy ones- who can be happier that they are getting a good price without having to work so hard for it. However, not everyone agrees. Martin Lewis’ pals Moneysupermarket.com have just reported poor results in their money products division (down 21% on the previous half-year), but rather than saturation, they have sweeteners down as the reason for the dip.
Moneysupermarket.com believe that the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme, which may or may not have been a complete failure on the lending front, has certainly succeeded in depressing savings rates even further than pitiful. With so little at stake, consumers just can’t be bothered to go compare.
But even in the ‘saturated’ UK, Confused.com reported an overall return to growth in 2012 and Moneysupermarket’s insurance stream profits are healthily up too. Is the UK really a bloated and lazy market full of apathetic comparison-free consumers?
Either way, the current market players are unlikely to be leaving the market, they just might not push so hard to attract new users. This might end up being good news for consumers, as fighting over the existing comparison-takers might drive better deals and partnerships between providers and comparison sites. Just so long as you remember to check any cashback benefits too. And if the non-price-checkers get left behind? Surely there is no one left in the country who hasn’t seen one brand of annoying advert, so they probably really aren’t interested.
All the more benefit for those who do then.