Irish Internet Use Increases, E-Commerce Remains Fleeting

Internet penetration in Ireland now stands at 27 percent, according to The Irish Telecommunications Market Quarterly Review, and 41 percent of Ireland’s Internet users are under age 25.

More than one million people in Ireland enjoy home Internet access with approximately 500,000 using it each month. Sixteen percent of those currently offline plan to get connected at home within a year.

E-commerce has yet to gather mass appeal in Ireland. The Telecommunications Review found that nearly two-thirds of those who have Internet Access at home have never purchased anything online — either at home or elsewhere. The primary reasons are lack of interest (26 percent), followed by almost one-quarter who feel it is not secure enough and 18 percent who refuse to use their credit card over the Internet.

Irish citizens who do not have access to the Internet at home (63 percent) cite lack of interest (38 percent) as the primary reason, followed by a lack of a computer at home (23 percent) and cost (15 percent).

Research from Amárach Consulting found that travel services are the most frequently cited online purchase among Irish Internet users. More than 40 percent of active Internet users have purchased online travel services in the last three months.

“The growing popularity of travel Web sites is testament to the success of online services such as that offer consumers convenience and cost-savings,” said Michael McLoughlin, Amárach’s Director of eServices. “Travel services are likely to account for a growing proportion of Ireland’s business to consumer e-commerce market. The challenge for those seeking to do business on the Internet is no different to that facing offline businesses. They have to create winning customer propositions that offer tangible and real benefit to the consumer. These benefits could be based on factors such as choice, value, price or convenience.”

Amárach also asked Internet users if they would engage in a range of online activities in the future. Seventy percent of existing Internet users agreed they will use the Internet to book a vacation — more than one-third strongly agreed. Interest in booking a vacation online was highest among 25 to 34 year olds, and those with home Internet access.

Recruitment sites are also likely to perform well, with more than 60 percent of Irish Internet users agreeing that in the future they will conduct some or all of their job search online. More than half of Ireland’s Internet users say they will read a newspaper online. Only one in five Internet users agree they will be buying groceries online in the future.

Online personal financial services also appears to be a promising market. More than 40 percent of Internet users agree they will manage their bank accounts online. Currently, slightly more than 10 percent of Irish Internet users use online banking services.

According to Amárach, 28 percent of all Irish adults now say they use the Internet — equivalent to 784,000 people. One year ago only 17 percent of Irish adults were online. Home remains the dominant access point with 60 percent of Internet users logging on from home.

“Amárach forecasts that the number of adults online will exceed a million by the end of 2001,” said Amárach’s Bettina MacCarvill. “This will be driven by a combination of factors including continued strong home PC sales and an increase in Internet access points in schools and colleges”.

Amárach’s report is based on in-home interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,007 adults (aged 15 to 74) conducted during the last two weeks of October and the first two weeks of November 2000.

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