Web Hits Growth Spurt in Q4

Market research firm INTECO Corp.’s latest survey compares Web data from the first and last quarter of 1998, and finds it truly was a breakout year for Internet use.

The survey of 16,400 nationally representative US households found that 108 million adults, or about 55 percent of the US adult population accessed the Web during the last three months of 1998. INTECO estimates that 40 percent of US adults accessed the Web in the first quarter of 1998. INTECO also found that 35 million US adults 18 and over placed orders or made reservations online during the fourth quarter, a 250 percent increase over the first quarter.

The number of people who went online came as a surprise to INTECO’s analysts, who say the surge in Web users is not due solely to online shoppers at year’s end.

“There was a much larger increase in Web users than we were expecting, both in terms of those accessing from home and those accessing from the workplace,” said analyst Mark Snowden. “This indicates a fundamental strength in Internet growth that goes far beyond the excitement caused by holiday shopping.”

The INTECO survey also showed the extent to which multiple locations are used to access the Internet. According to INTECO, 70 percent of the nation’s 108 million Internet users have access from home, 48 percent have access from work, 21 percent access the Internet from a friend or relative’s house, and 23 percent from locations such as schools, libraries, and community centers.

In the gender arena, INTECO found that males constitute 55 percent of Internet users and 64 percent of Internet buyers.

“The increase in access from the workplace and increase in new computers in the home probably explains the higher than expected percentage of males than females,” Snowden said. “Males tend to be the first users in the home.”

Fewer people in the 18-34 age group access the Web in the fourth quarter of 1998 (39 percent) than did in the first quarter (41 percent). The 35-49 age group made up 32 percent of the Internet users in the first quarter of 1998 and grew to 38 percent for Q4.

INTECO estimates that consumers placed online orders and reservations worth $6 to 7 billion in 1998.

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