Report: Women Will Dominate Net Purchasing

According to a report by Media Metrix company AdRelevance, the number of female Internet users reached parity with male users in late 1999, but women’s spending habits will make them the dominant online consumer group during the coming years.

The report, titled “Wired Women,” found that many of the top e-tailers have an audience that is already over 65 percent female.

“The fun and convenience of going online is becoming increasingly important to a wide range of American women, from stay-at-home moms and career women to teens and students,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of media research for AdRelevance. “The Internet may not turn out to be ‘the great equalizer’ after all. On the contrary, women seem well on their way to outnumbering men in a medium that until recently was almost exclusively their own.”

Traditional Consumer Dominance

Although online spenders have been mostly men during the past five years, women Internet users reached 48 percent in the third quarter of 1999. Many researchers claim that women surfers reached the 50 percent level during the holiday season, and Jupiter Communications expects women users to exceed men users by year’s end.

Buchwalter noted that AdRelevance’s advertising data indicates that the online world is beginning to mirror its brick-and-mortar counterpart in appealing to women consumers. Since women have the greatest spending power and the most enthusiasm for the shopping experience, he believes they will come to dominate the Internet’s retail market.

Women have traditionally controlled most consumer spending. Recent studies show that women control 75 percent of family finances and 80 percent of family purchase decisions. As women become more comfortable with online shopping, and as the Internet becomes user-friendlier for shoppers, women shoppers are expected to eclipse men shoppers for most consumer goods.

The study, interestingly, is somewhat contrary to a recent study by Cyber Dialogue that found that women did not enjoy shopping on the Net as much as men. While that study acknowledged the growing number of women on the Net, it did not conclude that women will eventually dominate e-tailing.

What Categories Do Women Visit?

The types of sites that receive a majority of women visitors include toy retailers, women’s portals, greeting card sites, retail savings sites and health sites, according to recent Media Metrix reports. The top five sites with women traffic exceeding 60 percent include toysrus.com, eToys, iVillage, women.com and coolsavings.com.

By industry segment, advertisers have targeted the top women-use categories including toys, pet supply vendors, personal care product manufacturers, department stores, home and garden product vendors, kids and family Web sites, and health and fitness Web sites.

On the other hand, sites with a low concentration of women and a high concentration of men include sites with technical content, financial information, sports, news and streaming videos.

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