What They’re Doing Down Under

Aussies are logging on in record numbers with 62 percent of the population maintaining an Internet connection at home – up from 50 percent in 2001 – a 2003 RedSheriff report indicates, and August 2003 measurements from Nielsen//NetRatings found that two-thirds of Australia’s Internet population of nearly 13 million are active users.

Furthermore, 84 percent have been online for more than two years, and nearly half have been logging on for more than five years, RedSheriff revealed.

Australia: Average Web Usage, August 2003,
Home and Work
Number of Sessions Per Month 25
Number of Domains Visited Per Month 51
Time Spent Per Month 13:45:57
Time Spent During Surfing Session 00:32:47
Duration of a Web Page Viewed 00:01:04
Active Internet Universe 8,559,922
Current Internet Universe Estimate 12,823,843
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

Nielsen//NetRatings also noted that the country experienced a 150 percent surge in broadband subscriptions from April 2002 to April 2003, equaling roughly 1 million high-speed homes.

The combination of high Internet penetration, an active and tenured population, and high-speed connectivity should produce a ripe e-commerce environment, yet just about half of online Australians are comfortable with e-shopping, and those resistant are concerned with security.

While less than one-third (32 percent) made online purchases in 2001, 53 percent bought something online in 2003, and RedSheriff expects a slim increase to 55 percent by the close of 2004.

James Burge, RedSheriff’s Director of Research, explains the expected modest e-shopping gain: “Basically, over the past couple of years people have worked out what they want to purchase online and what they are happy purchasing through existing channels. Of course, the degree to which business has pushed online distribution has had a big influence too (e.g. banks promoting online banking). This is all part of the Internet and its users maturing.”

RedSheriff’s analysis of 500 Internet-using adults revealed that those aged 50+ were the earliest e-commerce adopters, but those in the 21-29 and 20-49 age groups have surpassed the older generation. There is a distinct correlation between high household income and online shopping with more than three-quarters of the big earners making purchases on the Net.

Who’s Buying Down Under?
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2003
Male 8% 19% 26% 34% 36% 55%
Female 8% 7% 12% 19% 28% 51%
Ages 16-20 4% 9% 5% 18% 24% 21%
Ages 21-29 6% 12% 17% 30% 30% 62%
Ages 30-49 10% 18% 24% 25% 39% 61%
Ages 50+ 16% 14% 18% 34% 25% 44%
Less than $50k/year 5% 9% 13% 17% 25% 44%
$50k-$99k/year 13% 15% 20% 25% 36% 59%
More than $99k/year 8% 24% 27% 52% 51% 76%
Source: RedSheriff

As Burge indicated, the banking industry has been more adept at promoting online services than some other e-commerce businesses. Burge notes that there are users who “are more comfortable transacting online with trusted organizations such as banks and airlines but less inclined to trust such as small e-commerce operator.”

Online banking is used by 51 percent of the Australian Internet population, up from 36 percent in 2001, and 62 percent expect to use online banking services over the next year – overtaking e-commerce intentions.

Nearly 4-in10 (38 percent) use online financial services at least once per week and checking account balances is the most common banking activity at 90 percent of users, followed by transferring funds between accounts (78 percent); scheduling payments (48 percent); and transferring money to third parties (47 percent).

Burge cited the convenience benefits of online banking and since the product is known and can’t be trialed before purchase, the transactions are ideally suited for the Internet. “Many other classes of online purchases do not offer these benefits and the existing channels of distribution.”

RedSheriff’s study found that Google was the search engine used most regularly by 42 percent of Australian Internet users, achieving satisfaction among 80 percent, compared to 18 percent of surfers who used Yahoo and indicated a 63 percent satisfaction rate. Australians elected Yahoo as the most recognized brand, with 97 percent of users familiar with its name.

“Google has become Australians’ preferred search engine over the past two years due to its simplicity and effectiveness,” commented Burge.

Measurements from Hitwise revealed that Google Australia was the top destination in September 2003, capturing nearly 10 percent of the market, but the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper was the site that was most bookmarked by users. Real Estate Australia was the second most bookmarked site.

Top Australian Sites Ranked by Visits,
September, 2003
Name Market Share Bookmarks
Google Australia 9.98% 0.89%
ninemsn 7.06% 0.45%
eBay Australia 3.05% 1.37%
Yahoo Australia & New Zealand 2.52% 0.62%
ninemsn Search 2.12% 0.45%
Yahoo Australia & New Zealand Mail 1.59% 0.53%
CBA NetBank 1.48% 0.21%
Commonwealth Bank of Australia 1.29% 1.46%
Yahoo Australia Search 1.03% 0.81%
ANZ Australia and New Zealand 0.90% 1.01%
Westpac Banking Corporation 0.86% 0.84%
Sydney Morning Herald 0.81% 4.36%
Commonwealth Securities 0.81% 0.33%
Vet Anti-Virus Software Australia 0.79% 0.17%
Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology 0.79% 1.69%
ninemsn News 0.79% 0.47%
National Australia Bank 0.61% 1.08%
Google Australia Image Search 0.61% 1.24%
realestate.com.au 0.55% 2.25%
AltaVista Australia 0.52% 1.31%
Source: Hitwise

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