Online retail and media profile changing, says Forrester

As the Internet continues to mature, so will consumers' shopping habits, causing online retail to spiralupward and onward.19 May 2000 - Eleven million more US consumers will take the e-commerce plunge this year, pushing online retailspending beyond US$38 billion, says Forrester.

As the Internet continues to mature, so will consumers' shopping habits, causing online retail to spiral upward and onward.

19 May 2000 - Eleven million more US consumers will take the e-commerce plunge this year, pushing online retail spending beyond US$38 billion, says Forrester.

According to the Technographics Retail & Media Data Overview from Forrester Research, Inc., the result of this impressive growth is an online retail landscape where the Web buyers' profiles and the product categories they buy from are vastly different from those even one year ago.

"When we started surveying online consumers three years ago, web buyers were a homogeneous group consisting of affluent males who used the Net to purchase software," said Christopher M. Kelley, associate analyst at Forrester.

"As new Web shoppers - who increasingly resemble the offline population - become more comfortable shopping online, their Net spending habits will mirror those currently seen with experienced Web shoppers."

The up-and-coming trends
Two factors will promote the growth of the online retail market in the next year.

First, Web buyers are confidently shopping across new product categories, with the most money being spent on researched products, including travel, computer hardware, and consumer electronics.

Second, although the core of online shoppers are generally male, younger, and more affluent than the online population as a whole, the new Web buyer is more likely to be female, younger, and less affluent than more experienced online shoppers - for the first time, more than half of new buyers are female.

Conversely, the fear of releasing credit card information remains the single most significant factor for online consumers who do not purchase on the Net. Nearly half of online consumers in the US and Canada have caught the e-commerce bug. Fifty-two percent of online households do not shop online due to fear of stolen credit card information and the distribution of personal information.

Higher expectations
While consumers embrace new shopping options, they expect a stream of innovations, reasonable prices, and promotions to keep coming.

Facts at a glance

Increased spending on electronic/computer goods, and travel.

More females are shopping online.

Online consumers fear releasing credit card information.

Consumers expect innovations, promotions and deals, but low prices.

95% of web buyers receive promotions via email.

32% of email receipients delete marketing messages before reading them.

Web buyers are growing more discriminate in their choice of literature.

Experienced Web buyers embrace online auctions, drawn in by the fun of bidding and the possibility of acquiring a great deal.

94 percent of online shoppers are also concerned with unreasonable shipping prices, with 44 percent having abandoned an online shopping cart due to shipping costs.

Online consumers have opened their inboxes to marketing, with 95 percent of Web buyers receiving offers or promotions via email. Online coupon and promotion companies lead the email-marketing race, filling the greatest number of inboxes of online shoppers and non buyers alike.

Although consumers receive marketers' email, a full 32 percent of email targets delete most marketing messages before even reading them.

Web buyers have also grown more discriminate in the publications they read. "Online shoppers are no longer just techies who sit around reading Wired all day long," added Kelley. "Instead, the top three magazines they subscribe to include Readers' Digest, TV Guide, and Better Homes and Gardens."

For the "Retail & Media Data Overview," Forrester conducted two surveys about consumers' shopping and media consumption behaviour - collecting a total of more than 100,000 completed surveys.

In addition to the completed surveys, Forrester also conducts semi-annual Field Studies specific to the affluent, consumer technology, personal finance, travel, and young consumers markets.

Technographics Retail & Media is part of Forrester's Technographics Data & Analysis -- the industry's most comprehensive quantitative research program analysing how today's technology impacts consumer attitudes and behaviour.