Affluent Americans Lead Web Growth

Six-figure households make up the fastest growth group on the Web, according to a survey by Web research firm Nielsen//NetRatings.

The survey found that individuals with household incomes ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 are the fastest growing income group online, which represents nearly 15 million Web surfers. The income group represents the most growth in people using the Web, up about 20 percent compared to a tally last year, Nielsen//NetRatings said. By the firm’s numbers, the income bracket now represents about 12 percent of the Web population.

Families with household incomes in the $150,000-and-up bracket were the next-fastest growth group on the Web, coming in at over 14 percent higher than the year before. In third place were households with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000, which grew by 12 percent to represent about 21 million people, or about 17 percent of the Web population.

“Corporate America is realizing the Internet is as much an essential part of the work environment as the telephone and facsimile,” said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst for Nielsen//NetRatings. “At the same time, marketers should take note that the Internet offers increasing opportunities to reach the affluent and their pocketbooks, particularly at work.”

Although the survey could help sell online advertisements, the results also illustrate what is often called the digital divide, an income gap that separates the online haves from the have-nots.

Individuals in households bringing home less than $25,000 a year eked out about 2 percent growth in representation online, Nielsen//NetRatings said. Families in the $25,000 to $50,000 income range grew by 5 percent. According to the U.S. Census, the average household income in the U.S. is $55,000.

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