RealTime IT News

Report: The Net's Not Mainstream, Yet

A new report from online business researcher eMarketer suggests the Internet is becoming an upscale microcosm of America.

eMarketer said its 1998 eOverview Report reveals that the demographic profile of the Net user is increasingly similar to that of the U.S. population as a whole. Core demographics such as age, gender and marital status, are beginning to stabilize, more closely mirroring the general public.

"The Web isn't mainstream quite yet, but it's certainly moving in that direction," stated Sam Alfstad, publisher of eMarketer.

The report also indicates that over the past two years, as the number of people online in the U.S. has tripled from 12 million to 37 million, the demographics of the newcomers to the Web--the 25% that joined in 1997--are even more closely aligned with that of the general population.

"Despite this overall trend, when you look at status demographics such as income, education and profession, which are all closely linked, Netizens remain a relatively elite group of consumers. They're more wealthy, educated and white collar," said Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer's Statsmaster.

The report claims that while men still outnumber women online today, the number of women on the Net is growing at a faster rate. Women, as a percentage of total users online, grew from 33% in 1996 to 39% by year-end 1997, and they will account for 42% of users by the end of this year, according to the report. eMarketer predicts that 51% of Net users will be women by the year 2002.

Looking forward, eMarketer expects the mirroring effect to continue, with the Net population becoming even more similar to the overall public profile. The researcher said it also expects older Americans to make the move online in massive numbers.