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RealTime IT News

Marketers: The Times They Are A Changin'

Marketers who have yet to embrace the Web for business purposes -- and continue to do so -- are jeopardizing their future profitability, according to an industry study.

The Next Wave of U.S.Online Users: Forecast and Analysis, 2000-2004 reports that in 2004, 103 million new users will go online, which will result in 210 million Internet users in all, representing 74 percent of the total U.S. population.

"The new online population will be from all walks of life and represent all ranges of socio-economic status. The online community will represent the U.S. population," says Barry Parr, director of consumer ecommerce research for IDC, an Internet/technology research firm.

Parr noted that adults age 55 and older represent the fastest-growing group coming aboard the Internet. "In fact, their numbers will more than triple from 11.1 million in 1999 to 34.1 million in 2004, and they will account for 20 percent of all new users," he said.

This new audience will be less computer-oriented, he added. "The online population is changing," he said. "The new breed of Web surfers will be less experienced with computers than in the past, and more acquainted with using set-top boxes and Web television. The new audience will be mainstream for sure but a less affluent, less technologically savvy group."

The increase in online users means that marketers who have refused to implement the World Wide Web will need to accept it or lose out to competitors, he added.

"Even those marketers who have implemented the Internet as a sales and marketing tool will need to reevaluate their business strategies in the coming years," said Parr.

"Existing online merchants who designed their models to capture the early Internet audience will have to expand their offerings to attract an older, lower-income households while making sure they are not overlooking the growing number of high-income online users," he said.

Today, the 18- to 34-year-old age group is the most active online U.S. population. "By 2004, almost 91 percent of this group will be online," said Parr. "Many in this group already take the Internet for granted. In five years, they will expect it to be as reliable as reliable as electricity, the telephone and running water."