The Web is no longer being dominated by stereotypical over-educated Internet
geeks, according to a new industry research report that says the online world
is undergoing a significant demographic shift.
The report, based on research for the Yankee Group’s Interactive Consumer
Survey (IAC) 2000, indicates that the average online consumer is increasingly
likely to be female and often has less than a year’s experience on the
In fact, the report found that 33 percent of today’s online U.S. households
have been online for less than one year, and 60 percent of these new
home-based Internet subscribers are women.
Furthermore, it’s no longer axiomatic that Internet users tend to have lots
of disposable income. The study found that “many new online consumers earn
average or below-average annual incomes.”
In addition, the survey results reveal that the Internet has become an
integral part of the daily lives of household users. Eighty-seven percent of
those surveyed said they log on at home at least once a day.
“The results of the (survey) are significant because it shows that the
Internet has begun to reach into the mass consumer market in the United
States,” said Lisa Melsted, an analyst in the Yankee Group’s Internet Market
Strategies Planning Service.
“We’re just now beginning to cross the divide
between those segments of the population that have been deemed the technology
haves and have-nots.”
“What’s more, for those consumers online, the Internet is becoming as much of
a daily habit at home as turning on the television,” she said.
The Yankee Group believes that consumer adoption of online access may be due
in part to factors such as the decline of PC prices over the past few years,
as well as the proliferation of affordable or free ISP services. According to
the report, 47 percent of newcomers have a free Internet account.
Other consumer usage trends:
- Surfing is a myth. Most consumers are going online with a specific purpose
in mind, and only 3 percent of at-home users “always” spend their time using
random sources. Over 50 percent of respondents “always” or “usually” use the
same online sources both at home and at work
- E-mail is the most widely used application on the Internet and the first
thing that people do when they go online. Sixty-eight percent of respondents
rated e-mail as their top online activity
- E-commerce is catching on with online consumers. According to the survey,
shopping is the most popular e-commerce activity online – ranking high above
online banking, stock trading and paying bills
- Consumers primarily look to the Web for information. Education and
learning ranked second only to e-mail as the top online activity in the
survey. News gathering activities ranked high in the survey. The Web is
quickly becoming the preferred source for quick information gathering and
- The Interactive Consumer Survey 2000 was e-mailed to a panel of 3,500 online
households in the United States. The Yankee Group is a technology research
and strategic consulting firm