Only 50% of Internet consumers are active users

Results of the first major study of online consumer behavior show that though Internet access is growing dramatically, just half of online consumers are active users, logging on at least once a month. NEW YORK, 19 May 2000 (Asia Pulse) - "All Visitors Are Not Created Equal" is the first study released by the research alliance of McKinsey and Media Metrix.

Results of the first major study of online consumer behavior show that though Internet access is growing dramatically, just half of online consumers are active users, logging on at least once a month.

NEW YORK, 19 May 2000 (Asia Pulse) - "All Visitors Are Not Created Equal" is the first study released by the research alliance of McKinsey and Media Metrix.

This research analyzes actual online behavior using a sample of the most active online consumers among the Media Metrix US panel of 50,000 people under measurement.

The purpose was to determine insights into consumer online behavior that would help marketers develop e-business strategies, attract and retain Web users.

Among the active users, six distinct segments have emerged, reinforcing a fundamental marketing rule: Know your customer.

The six segments are:

  • Simplifiers
  • Surfers
  • Connectors
  • Bargainers
  • Routiners
  • Sportsters

    The segments were distinguished by each active user's time online, pages and domains accessed, and the amount of time spent per Web page.

    Strategies for Growth
    "Companies can use this data to establish a strong and ultimately successful presence on the Web," said John Forsyth, principal and co-leader of McKinsey's e-Marketing Practice.

    Because Internet profitability depends heavily on customer repeat purchases and higher average transaction size, winning a loyal consumer base in one segment is more likely to be profitable than skimming all of the segments.

    "Marketers who try to reach all six at once, or approach them as if they were all alike, do so at their peril," Mr Forsyth continued.

    Mary Ann Packo, president and chief operating officer of Media Metrix, said the study shows companies must be careful in measuring the success of their Web site.

    "If a company merely looks at the number rather than the type of visitors or their behavior, they may under- or overestimate the potential value they can capture in the long run," she said.

    Simplifiers and Surfers
    Simplifiers use the Internet to make their lives easier, and tend to log on with a specific purpose in mind - buying books, for example - and they want to do it quickly and easily.

    Although Simplifiers spend just seven hours per month on the Web, they have the longest tenure online (49% have been online for over five years) and account for half of the total online transactions.

    To get sustained sales from this group, companies must provide "end-to-end convenience", such as ease of access and use, availability of product information, reliable customer service and easy returns.

    Surfers constitute just 8% of the active user population, but they account for 32% of online time - far more than any other segment in the study.

    They access over four times as many pages as the average user, and move quickly among the domains, continually seeking new experiences.

    To attract and keep Surfers, a site needs cutting-edge design and features, constant updates, a strong online brand, and an assortment of products and services.

    Connectors and Bargainers
    Although Connectors account for 36% of the active user population, 40% of them have been online less than two years, and just 42% have made purchases online (versus an average of 61%).

    Connectors often use the Internet to "connect" with people through e-mail and chat rooms.

    However, they hold great potential to expand their use and become members of a different segment.

    "Companies with strong offline presences will have the advantage in reaching these beginners," said Mr Forsyth, "because Connectors may count on offline brands they trust to lead them to appealing content."

    Bargainers are fiercely devoted to one aspect of the Internet: the quest for deals. Though they represent only 8% of active online users and spend less time online than the average user, they represent 52% of eBay visitors.

    To attract repeat visits from Bargainers, sites must appeal to them on both rational and emotional levels, satisfying their need for competitive pricing, the excitement of the "search," and the desire for community.

    Routiners and Sportsters
    Routiners and Sportsters go online primarily for content. Only half of Routiners have made purchases online, and just 6% have made five or more online purchases.

    They visit fewer domains (typically news and financial sites), but spend almost twice as much time per page as average users. Routiners want superior content and the sense they are getting "something special".

    Sportsters (just 4% of active online users) act much like Routiners, but focus on sports and entertainment sites.

    They spend just 7.1 hours online each month (versus a 9.8 average), and are drawn to fresh, colorful and interactive sites. The challenge for companies is to turn this use into revenue, usually by moving visitors from "free" content to a paid subscription.

    About McKinsey
    McKinsey is a global management consulting firm that advises companies on strategic, operational, organizational and technological issues. In recent years, McKinsey has adapted its services to meet the needs of emerging Internet businesses.

    About Media Metrix
    Media Metrix, Inc. is the industry's source for audience ratings, e-commerce and advertising.

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