RealTime IT News

Report: Women Leading the Online Shopping Charge

The increase in use of the Internet by consumers is, for the first time, being driven by women as the number of female consumers online jumped 80 percent in nine months to pass the 10-million mark, says a new study.

Also, according to an April 1999 study just released by industry association CommerceNet and Nielsen Media Research, the number of Internet users in North America has now reached 92 million. Of today's 92 million Internet users, 46 percent are women. The percent of female users had been about 43 percent for nearly two years.

The number of Internet users age 16 and older in the U.S. and Canada increased 16 percent in just nine months. And the number of online consumers jumped 40 percent to 28 million during the same period.

"More than two of every five people in North America are now Internet users, and the Web is becoming an integral part of daily life," said Mark Resch, executive vice president of CommerceNet. "With more than 30% of users being Internet consumers, we're seeing a tidal wave of e-commerce in North America."

The new Internet Demographics study reveals that women are now the driving force in the growth of Internet buying, as the proportion of women among online buyers increased nine percentage points, from 29 percent to 38 percent since last summer. Those figures are backed up by a similar report from The Strategis Group released earlier this year.

"Men were undoubtedly the early adopters of Internet commerce, but women have recently emerged as a powerful buying force on the Web. The nine-point increase in the proportion of women purchasing via the Web in such a short period of time is substantial," said Jerome Samson, director of technology and business strategy at Nielsen Media Research.

According to the study, women now represent 45 percent of the 9.2 million online book buyers, 38 percent of the 7.2 million CD/video buyers, 24 percent of the 5.4 million buyers of computer hardware, and 53 percent of the 4.5 million online buyers of clothing. In these top categories, the number of women making purchases more than doubled since last summer.

A total of 55 million people, or 60 percent of the Internet population, have used the Web to shop, an increase of 15% since last summer, the study shows. The increase is in line with the growth of the Internet population overall.

Women's top shopping items are clothing (6.9 million shoppers) and books (6.2 million shoppers), while men's top shopping items are cars/car parts (12.6 million shoppers) and computers (9.4 million shoppers).

CommerceNet and Nielsen Media Research have conducted demographic and e-commerce studies of the Internet since 1995. These studies are accessible via Gideon, an application that enables clients to analyze the demographic characteristics of the Internet population directly over the Web.

More than 7,200 persons were interviewed for the April 1999 study.