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  Internet Demographics
Before you can do business online, you need to understand a little bit about the people that you'll be marketing to. The online world is a unique marketing environment because of the way users group themselves together. This is called segmentation of segmenting the market.

If you've ever purchased a mailing list to use in a direct mail program, you might already know something about segmentation. When you order a list you can request names of people from a specific zip code, people with a specific income, people who work in certain occupations, or people who subscribe to a certain magazine or trade journal.

All of these criteria can be used to create a single list of people that have similar interests and lifestyles. When you're marketing products or services, it's always more effective when you focus your marketing efforts on the most qualified group of people you can so the response will be high.

One of the great things about the online world is that users tend to group themselves into highly defined groups all by themselves. You can't go online and request a list of people to send an offer to, but if you know where to look, you might be able to find a place where those people hang out and then get a marketing message in front of them.

One of the things that any online business owner needs to do before starting an online business is determine how well his products and services fit the interests and lifestyles of the typical online user. Later in this book you'll be able to go through an exercise that will help you determine if your product or service is suited for online marketing, but right now we want to point out to you a few general demographics for the online world.

Keep in mind that people do the exact same things online they like to do off-line. If you like NBA Basketball, you would probably visit one of the NBA or general sports sites on the Internet or one of the online services. So targeting your message to a group of qualified prospects is easier in the online world than in any other advertising medium.

So that you will better understand the nature of the online user, here's some information to consider. This information was gathered from information provided by online research studies. Since the online world changes rapidly, you may want to get a current look at online demographics by checking one of the sites listed at the bottom of this document.

Age
The average age of all web users is 36 years old. European users are a bit younger at 30 years old. Unlike past years when the average age of women users is younger than their male counterparts, there is no longer an age discrepancy.

Gender
The online world is still a predominately male environment. About 61% of the users are male. However more and more women are coming online to balance this out. Just a couple of years ago the percentage of women users was only about 15%. Women now account for nearly 39% of the users in the US. The percentage of women users in the US is nearly double that of Europe. Everywhere you look, the number of women users is on the rise.

Education
A whopping 86% of online users have attended College with half having earned a degree. People online are smart and sophisticated.

Income
One thing is for sure, online users have money. You might think this has something to do with the fact that you need a computer to access the online world and note everyone has one or knows how to use one. The average household income for online users is about $53,000.

We're seeing a decline in the income levels as more and more people come online. Just over a year ago, the average household income was almost $60,000. As you would expect, the younger the user, the lower the income. This is due to the high number of students who use high speed Internet. The average income of the higher are groups is actually much higher than the total average.

If you are selling something online, it's nice to know that the people you're selling to have some money to spend. Wouldn't you agree?

Location
The US has the best phone system in the world and more computers per capita than any country in the world. So it's only fitting that 84% of all Internet users are in the US. About 7% are from Europe, and 8% from Canada and Mexico.

Most people consider the Internet an International medium, but reality is still primarily a US medium. The Internet reaches every continent. The growth of Internet use is faster outside of the US than inside, but the shear number of new users is significantly higher in the US. Fast growing areas include Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South and Central America.

Marital Status
The online world is pretty split between married (40%) and unmarried (41%). The rest are either divorced or living with someone. As you would expect, the younger crowd (under 25) is about 75% single, while the older crowd (50+) are 75% married. Those in the middle (26-50) are about evenly split between married and single.

Careers
About 23% of web users work in education to top the list of career choices. The next highest ranking occupation is Computer and Technical workers at 21%. A few years ago the ranking for these two occupations was just the opposite. Considering the penetration of the Internet into all levels of education, this is not too surprising. Now we know what all those teachers are doing during recess, right?

Next in line are professionals and management occupations at 21% and 12% respectively. Overall, women are more likely to be involved in education career, while men are more likely to be in computer careers.

Politics
Most users consider themselves to be political moderates (30%), with 21% being conservative or very conservative, and 35%being liberal or very liberal. Women are more likely to be liberal and men more likely to be conservative.

Democrats lead Republicans online at 25% to 21% respectively. Another 16% said they lean towards the Democrats, while 10% lean toward the Republicans.

Privacy Issues
As a whole, online users don't like to say much about themselves and resent those that share personal demographic information with others for personal gain.

What this really means is that Internet users don't like to have their names and email addresses sold to others for the sole purpose of sending an ad or offer. On the other hand, most realize the need for demographic information for designing an online business and marketing a site to advertisers.

About half said they would give personal information in return for some value, like a reminder service, or to get access to private specialized information.

Access
Over half (55%) of online users get their access at home. The 50+ crowd is more likely to be paying for their access and getting it at home, while the younger crowd is more likely to get free access at work or at school. This explains why the busiest days online are Monday-Thursday and why the weekends are about 20-30% slower traffic days than any other days. Many users only access the online world from work or school and both are out on the weekends.

Frequency
About 72% of women who use the web, do so every day, while 87% of men are daily users. These numbers are on the rise , which is good news for online business. About 45% use the web 1-4 times per day, while 41% use it more frequently and 15% use it less.

Purpose
This category illustrates that the online world is an entertainment medium as much as anything. The most common use of the web is to surf (79%), followed by entertainment (65%) and work (51%). I would even consider most surfing as entertainment, so that is really the number one use right now. Shopping is on the increase, going from 11% a year ago to 14% now. Older users do more work online, while younger users are playing online.

Complaints
The biggest frustration of web users is speed. Online users don't like to wait for things download and even though modem speeds are increasing, the number of users complaining about speed keeps increasing. We're just never satisfied.

Another big complaint is not being able to find information that they know is out there. Other problems cited are not being able to find a site after visiting it once and paying too much for access. Basically we're all impatient and cheap.

Connections
The standard for connection speed continues to rise as new modems keep coming on the market and prices keep falling. The most common connection speed is now 33.6 followed by 28.8 Kbs. This is exact opposite of a year ago.

About 40% of users have a connection faster than 28.8. This would be those who are using fast dedicated connections at work or at school. This type of high speed connection might include such things as T1's, DS3's, 56 Kbs lines, Frames relays and ISDN. Another interesting statistic is that about 60% of users also have an account with one of the online services, but only about 8% use it to access the web.

Summary
If you had to take all this information and put it together in one body, here's what you'd get.

A 36 year old man who lives in the US, works in education, makes about $53k per year, votes Democrat, gets his Internet access at home through a 33.6 modem and at work with a T1, uses the Internet 1-4 times every day for work and fun, also has an America Online account, hates giving out personal information unless its for a good purpose, and thinks the Internet is just too slow and unorganized. Sound like someone you know?

This is a good, broad picture of the online world, but many studies focus more on specific niches of the online world. If you can identify the traits of your audience more specifically, you're much more likely to have success in your online business.

This demographic information presented here relates to users of the Internet. There are also some great demographic profiles of America Online, CompuServe, and Prodigy subscribers on each of those respective online services.


This demographic information was obtained from the Graphic, Visualizations and Usability Center (GVU) at Georgia Tech.

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