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Who's Using RSS

  |  August 2, 2005   |  Comments

Marketers are interested in RSS, but few North American adults currently use it.

Only two percent of adults in North America say they use RSS (define). That's compared with five percent of teens and young adults aged 12 to 21, according to research in a pair of new reports on marketing and RSS from Forrester Research. Forrester Research Analyst Charlene Li notes the RSS user numbers don't include users who unknowingly use RSS, such as via a portal like My Yahoo for example.

Current RSS users are predominately male, 66 percent are adults and 65 percent in the 12 to 21 youth age group. They average almost double the amount of online time per week as their non-RSS using counterparts. RSS users are also more likely to have broadband (adults, 64 percent; youth, 62 percent), use wireless data services (adults, 35 percent; youth, 75 percent) and consider themselves tech optimists (adults, 78 percent; youth, 79 percent).

North American RSS User Characteristics
Adult RSS Users Adult Non-RSS Users Teen RSS Users Teen Non-RSS Users
Population (%) 2 98 5 95
Male (%) 66 48 65 46
Average age 38.9 45.0 15.0 14.7
Average household income ($) 65,509 66,207 54,467 50,012
College education (%) 46 37 N/A N/A
Average hours per week spent reading newspapers or magazines 5.3 6.1 N/A N/A
Average hours per week spent using the internet 15.6 8.4 16.5 12.5
Average online tenure (years) 6.5 5.7 6.3 5.5
Have broadband (%) 64 44 62 50
Tech optimists (%) 78 58 79 68
Use wireless data services (%) 35 14 75 59
Notes: 1. Base: North American online households.
2. Household income base: US online households.
3. Teen base: North American online youth, ages 12-21.
Source: Forrester, 2005

Forrester defines current RSS users as information junkies and online shoppers. Twenty-one percent of adult RSS users indicated they visit comparison-shopping sites, compared with only four percent of non-RSS users. Forty percent of adult RSS users said they research products for purchase online, in contrast with only 18 percent who don't use RSS.

RSS users don't just window shop; they spend more. Non-RSS users spent an average $333 online over the past three months, while RSS users spent $465 in the same period.

National news sites are more likely to be used by adult RSS users; 43 percent use national news sites, versus just 14 percent of non-RSS users. The research also shows a clear link between blogs and RSS usage. Twenty-five percent of adults using RSS publish or maintain a blog, compared to only one percent of non-RSS users. Twenty-seven percent of adults using RSS read blogs, only one percent of non-RSS users blog.

North American RSS User Online Habits (%)
Adult RSS Users Adult Non-RSS Users Teen RSS Users Teen Non-RSS Users
Use national news sites 43 14 37 16
Use sports sites 27 10 28 15
Research products for purchase 40 18 N/A N/A
Use comparison shopping sites 21 4 23 8
Research free products or coupons 19 6 27 13
Publish or maintain a blog 25 1 33 7
Read blogs 27 1 N/A N/A
Look up classifieds 19 4 22 13
Notes: 1. Base: North American online households.
2. Teen base: North American online youth, ages 12-21.
Source: Forrester, 2005

Although a scant few currently use RSS, the Forrester report argues marketers should care about RSS; RSS users represent tomorrow's customers. Marketers should begin testing this new application; while current RSS use is small, both risk and cost are relatively low, the report said.

The report argues current RSS adoption is low as it's still new and not yet simple to find and use RSS feeds. Forrester believes consumer adoption will increase once RSS is integrated into users' day-to-day online experience.

Data were derived from a pair of surveys. Forrester's "Consumer Technographics 2005 North American Benchmark Study" was conducted from January to February 2005. It involved a mail survey to 68,661 North American households. In April 2005, the second study, "Forrester's Consumer Technographics Q1 2005 North American Youth Devices & Access And Finance Online Study," was conducted with 5,216 North American youths aged 12 to 21.


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