Women Taking the Internet Lead

There are now 27 million women online in the US, according to eMarketer’s eUser & Usage Report, and they account for 46 percent of the Internet users in America. A report by NetSmart America goes even further, finding that 58 percent of the new Internet users in the US are women (up from 44 percent in 1998), and predicting that at current growth levels women will lead men in Internet access 60 percent to 40 percent by 2002.

According to a survey of online women by Women.com, 70 percent cannot imagine life without Web access. The joint study, conducted by Women.com, Harris Interactive, and Proctor & Gamble sheds light on the profiles of online women and their interaction with online advertising.

Highlights from the study include:

  • The average online woman is more likely to be married than single, in her thirties, with a generally high household income
  • Women find micro-site marketing the most engaging and effective form of Internet advertising
  • More than 50 percent of women say “fast and easy solutions” are key to online commerce
  • Women control 80 percent of all purchasing decisions
  • 73 percent of women regularly access product and service information online — more than any other kind of information
  • Nearly 90 percent of women surveyed are the primary healthcare decision-makers.

“Women have created an online revolution that has closed the Web’s gender gap, and have become the dominant force on the Internet today,” said Gina Garrubbo, executive VP of Women.com. “Women make the majority of online health-care decisions, retail purchases, and financial choices for the household.”

According to NetSmart, 88 percent of women go online because they say it simplifies their lives. Eighty-three percent said it saves them time. Only 55 percent said they go online because it saves them money. More than half (62 percent) of women have Internet access at work, and they spend 9 hours a week online at home. Eighty-one percent of women said they don’t know how they survived without the Internet.

As far as shopping online, NetSmart found that women account for 75 percent of major household purchases. While women do not yet make high-ticket purchases online, they do use the Internet to research major purchases. As the result of online research, 33 percent of women purchased a computer, 17 percent a new car, and 11 percent a new appliance.

NetSmart found that 53 percent of women made an online purchase, up from 33 percent in 1998. The most popular online purchases by women include software (30 percent), clothes (27 percent), and gifts (25 percent). Because of their Internet access, 17 percent of women are doing less catalog shopping and 15 percent are doing less retail shopping.

A study by America Online and The Business Women’s Network (BWN) found that working women use the Internet more than 14 hours per week, and more than half go online more than once a day. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of working women said that, given a choice, they would rather have a computer with Internet access on their desk than a telephone. More than half of working women currently online use the Internet for work purposes, and two-thirds have used the Internet to learn about careers and career advancement. Almost half of working women have used the Internet to find a job.

The AOL/BWN study found that 84 percent of women say the Internet saves them time in every aspect of their lives. Nearly all (96 percent) of the women surveyed have researched products online, while 64 percent have made purchases via the Internet.

Other findings from eMarketer’s eUser & Usage Report include:

  • The medianincome for online households is 57 percent higher than the average American household, $58,000 vs. $37,005
  • The number of teens online will grow 38 percent, from 11.1 million in 1999 to 15.3 million by 2002
    • Teens average 8.5 hours online per week — 27 percent more than average Net users
  • 87 percent of college students are currently online, representing, by far, the most active single group on the Net
  • Seniors will account for $3.5 billion (19 percent) of total consumer online spending in the US, and $16.7 billion by 2002
  • Hispanics represent the largest minority group online with 6.9 million Blacks and 4 million Asians online
  • The number of gays and lesbians online worldwide will rise from 9.2 million to 17 million in 2005

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