Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

July 17, 2000
The New Web Shoppers
Women and seniors are becoming the two largest groups shopping online

The demographics of online shoppers are changing, and the young tech-savvy male no longer dominates Internet shopping. Now, women and senior citizens are getting online and taking the e-commerce world by storm.

This year, 45% of online shoppers are female, Forrester Research estimates, and females account for more than half of all consumers who made their first online purchase in the second half of last year. In addition, when it comes to household spending, women control 75% of household finances and are responsible for 80% of purchasing, a Harris Interactive study found. With more women buying jewelry for themselves, the increase in female Web shoppers is a big deal for online jewelers. Advertising campaigns and Web sites targeted at men will no longer suffice.

Seniors over the age of 55 are flocking to online stores as well. A survey by Greenfield Online revealed the percentage of wired seniors shopping online is higher than the percentage of general Internet users shopping online. In addition, 93% of online seniors surveyed have shopped online, and 89% of them have completed their online purchases.

Other notable survey results are:

  • eMarketer found 68% of U.S. Internet users will shop online by the end of the year.
  • Almost 34 million U.S. households are actively using the Internet, and 23.5 million of them have made purchases online. By 2003, eMarketer expects 52 million households will be online, and 42 million will be shopping online.
  • This year the average Internet shopper will spend $627 online, up from $500 in 1999. By 2003, the amount should rise above $1,000.
  • A CyberDialogue study found nearly 90% of wired women say security guarantees would encourage them to shop online, and 67% say clearly-posted privacy policies would further entice them.
  • More than 68% of online shoppers say they researched products online and then made purchases in a bricks-and-mortar store.
These new statistics may not affect the way online retailers do business, but they should. Many industries that have traditionally focused on the male consumer are taking this as a sign to devote more attention to female shoppers. Some are changing their advertising campaigns, and others are making special sections on their Web sites for women. It is time to cater to the new wave of Internet shoppers. Women and seniors want to buy online, but retailers need to find a way to bring them to the site and help them find what they want.

- by Julia M. Duncan