Survey: Web Cuts into TV Use by Mothers

Using television to reach women with children could be getting harder for advertisers, thanks to increasing Internet use, according to new findings from a survey conducted by Jupiter Media Metrix and NPD Group.

The survey found that 44 percent of Internet-using U.S. women with children said that online activities decreased the amount of time they spent watching TV.

Instead, 40 percent of wired mothers said they use the Web to help with schoolwork. Twenty-nine percent said they play games on the Internet, while the same percentage said they actively downloaded music online.

The survey also suggests that online mothers are attracted to online sales and incentives, more so than women without children. For instance, 69 percent of wired women with children said their online shopping is directed primarily at finding the best deals.

Forty-one percent of Internet-using women with children surveyed said they buy things online on sale that they wouldn’t have purchased otherwise, and that they’re more likely to use online coupons. Food shopping (50 percent of respondents), household products (43 percent) and local services (23 percent) topped the list of products for which mothers said they’d use online coupons.

That’s not necessarily the same situation for women without kids, who display higher brand affinity. Thirty-four percent of the demographic said they’d buy well-known brands even if it meant paying more, and 20 percent said the brands they use reflect their personality.

In large part, wired mothers’ increasing use of the Internet for bargain hunting and media consumption would appear to reflect the relative shortages they face in budgets and free time, as compared to women without children.

“Women with kids look for online bargains, while those without children tend to be more brand-loyal,” said Jupiter Research analyst Jon Gibs. “Therefore, companies looking to reach women online with kids should focus on price promotions and marketing programs such as online coupons.”

As a result of the findings, the growing popularity of the Internet could present a significant challenge — or opportunity — for firms like consumer packaged goods manufacturers, who annually rank among the top-spending television advertisers. Women with children represent a critical target market for that industry, since research has shown that they tend to make most of the purchasing decisions for the household.

“Because women with children often have time constraints, and therefore a limited time budget for media consumption, increased use of the Internet is more likely to cannibalize time that was once spent watching television,” Gibs said. “Advertisers and programmers interested in reaching mothers should therefore consider increasing their online marketing efforts relative to TV advertising.”

The study comes on the heels of a Harris Interactive survey that found that the U.S. online population is again growing, after a six-month period of stagnation. Harris also found that women continue to outnumber men on the Internet.

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