Internet Access Rates Still Growing in Japan

Internet usage and PC ownership show no signs of slowing down, according to the Prudential Japanese Consumer Confidence Survey, which found that nearly half of Japanese households now own PCs and three in four PC owners have access to the Internet. Both PC usage and Internet access are posting growth rates of more than 20 percent on a year-on-year basis.

“There is still tremendous potential for the growth of PCs and the Internet among the tech-savvy Japanese population,” said Lee Haydon, vice president of Market Research at Prudential. “The more individuals and businesses use the Internet, the greater the incentive for those who are not yet online to start getting connected.”

Other findings from the latest Prudential survey include:

  • Nearly half of Japanese households surveyed now own a home PC. Home PC ownership among Japanese households with annual income of 3 million yen or more reached 46 percent in August 2000, showing a sharp increase of nine percentage points since a year ago.
  • More than half of investors (51 percent) now have PCs at home. Affluent households (annual income of 10 million yen or more) have the highest home PC ownership at 57 percent as of August, while 43 percent of middle class households (annual income between 3 to 10 million yen) own a home PC. As PCs are becoming more affordable, the PC ownership gap between the affluent and middle class Japanese families has dwindled.
  • Households headed by those who are 55 years or older seemed slower in adopting new technologies. 24 percent of these households currently own a home PC, just 4 percentage points better than last year.
  • The vast majority of home PCs have Internet access. As of August, three out of four Japanese home PCs (75 percent) have Internet access, up from 60 percent a year ago.
  • Among investors who own PCs at home, 78 percent are connected to the Internet.
  • The Internet seems to be driving the growth in home PC ownership. Middle class Japanese families that own home PCs are as likely to be “wired” as their affluent counterpart (74 percent vs. 76 percent). Moreover, although consumers aged 55 or older are less likely to own PCs than other age groups, 63 percent of the home PCs owned by older consumers are already connected to the Internet.
  • 81 percent of Japanese Internet users have used email and 74 percent have sought news or information online. Forty-two percent have searched online for product information prior to making a purchase. Additionally, 16 percent have shopped online in the past month.

The Prudential survey also found that gathering information on financial services through the Internet is increasingly common among Japanese users. Among investors who have access to the Internet, more than one in three (35 percent) have already conducted online research on the stock market or investment trusts. Among the general public Internet users, 23 percent have done so in the last month.

Managing money online is beginning to be accepted. Currently, 11 percent of Internet users have checked their investment or savings accounts online, more than twice as many as a year ago. Six percent have made online savings or investment transactions, also doubled since last year.

Current investors are ahead of the general public in managing money online: among investors who have access to the Internet, 16 percent have accessed their savings or investments accounts online, and 10 percent have made transactions involving savings or investments.

“The rapid growth in Internet usage further advances consumers’ interest in online financial services,” said Melvin Guan, manager of Market Research at Prudential. “We’ll see online financial services market in Japan grow explosively in the next couple of years.”.

The Prudential Japanese Consumer Confidence Survey analyzes data on Japanese consumer opinions of various economic and personal financial situations. This data comes from the survey conducted in August of 2000 among 1,300 households with annual incomes of 3 million yen or more.

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