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Online Buying Grows, But How Much?

Posted by Mort Greenberg on February 20, 2008

Source: eMarketer 

Online Buying Grows, But How Much?

FEBRUARY 20, 2008

Broadband and online buying go hand in hand.

Buying things online is becoming a common experience for US Internet users. And addressing consumers’ security concerns could make online buying even more common.Those are the main findings of the Pew Internet & American Life Project‘s latest online shopping study, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates in August and September 2007. Pew found that two-thirds of online Americans have purchased a product online at least once.

“If people’s worries about security of personal information were eased, the pool of online shoppers would be greater,” said John B. Horrigan, associate director at Pew.

Online Buyer Penetration among US Consumers, 2000-2007 (% of total population)

The number of US consumers who have purchased online more than doubled from 22% in June 2000 to 49% in September 2007.

Pew said that number extrapolated to 66% of Americans with Internet access having bought something online.

The research center estimated that the percentage of online buyers would be as much as three percentage points higher, or 69%, if people were not as concerned about about sending personal or credit card information over the Web.

Broadband was the most significant common characteristic of online buyers compared with non-buyers. More than three-quarters of online buying US consumers had broadband, while little more than one-half of non-buyers did.

Demographic Profile of US Online Buyers vs. Internet Users Who Have Not Purchased Online, August-September 2007 (% of respondents)

As with many statistics, online buyer numbers can vary greatly depending on methodology. Even an average number can belie variations within a data set.

For example, in a study released this month, Eurostat found that 30% of consumers in the EU27 had made at least one purchase online. But the numbers ranged from 10% for Italy to more than 50% for the UK and Scandinavian countries.

Online Buyer Penetration among Consumers in Select Countries in Europe, Q2 2007 (% of population)

Similarly, The Nielsen Company issued a press release about a study conducted in October and November 2007 which put the world’s online purchasing population at roughly 90% of the world’s Internet population.

Nielsen told eMarketer that the study was based on custom research, and involved different panels worldwide.

Online Buyer Penetration among Internet Users Worldwide, by Region, October-November 2007 (% of respondents)

In order to get an apples-to-apples comparison for Canada and the US, eMarketer counted Internet users ages 14 and older when creating 2007 estimates of online buyers. Anyone within that group who had made a purchase within the past year was counted as an online buyer, resulting in a 66.3% online buyer population in the US and 55.5% in Canada.

The eMarketer numbers were very similar to Pew’s, although Pew counted only adults who had made an online purchase at some point.

Online Shoppers and Buyers in the US and Canada, 2007

The eMarketer Multi-Channel Retailing report will be published in February 2008. Click here to be notified when it is released.

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