Based on a telephone survey, the authors found that Internet shoppers are older and make more money than Internet non-shoppers. Internet shoppers are more convenience seekers, innovative, impulsive, variety seekers, and less risk averse than Internet non-shoppers are. Internet shoppers are also less brand and price conscious than Internet non-shoppers are. Internet shoppers have a more positive attitude toward advertising and direct marketing than non-shoppers do. Implications of these findings are discussed.
TODAY THE WORLD IS facing an "electronic" change that is affecting the way people communicate and which is transforming the entire value chain, from manufacturers and retailers to consumers. The Internet is revolutionizing marketing, which is often defined as the exchanges between individuals and firms. Internet shopping is becoming a well-accepted way to purchase many kinds of products and services including computer products, automobiles, travel products, investment products, clothing, flowers, books, music, and homes. In 1998 businesses expected to exchange goods and services of over $22 billion on the Internet. The number is expected to be as high as $3.2 trillion in the year 2003 (Forrester Research, 1998).
Many factors are helping the development of the Internet market, some related to technological advances, some related to the way the corporate world has changed its perceptions, and some related to changing lifestyles of consumers. The increasing number of companies that offer Internet access are providing consumers with a convenient and inexpensive way to become members of the Internet community. The development of better navigation software and search engines are making Internet visits a more pleasant and exciting experience. The increase in the quantity and quality of the available information on the Internet and the presence of well-known corporations and brands on the Internet are also generating higher interest among consumers. In addition, the development of secure systems that allow secure monetary transactions are accelerating Internet shopping.
Shopping has become the fastest-growing use of the Internet, and almost 40 percent of Internet users report shopping as a primary use of the Web (GVU, 1998). The total number of Internet shoppers has reached more than 20 million, and it is expected to continue growing. Even consumers who have not used the Internet to purchase goods and services claim to have used it for information searching that ultimately led to shopping in the traditional channels (USA Today, 1998).
The growth of Internet commerce is evidenced not only by the popularity of the Web sites but also by the increase in revenue and profitability of some of its key players. In a survey conducted using 2,069 Web-based businesses, ActiveMedia found that 46 percent claimed to be profitable, and 29 percent said that they would be profitable in the next 12 to 24 months (Business Week, 1998).
To summarize, the electronic commerce industry is growing, with Internet shopping becoming a very popular activity among Internet users. Recently there have been several industry and academic studies investigating and profiling the internet user. For example, it has been established that the Internet user is young, educated, male, etc. What is still not very well known is who the Internet shopper is. While it is useful to profile the Internet user, from a marketing or advertising point of view it is more important to understand the Internet shopper. There is no evidence that suggests that the typical Internet user is also the typical Internet shopper. For example, knowing that the typical Internet shopper is young, does that mean that companies planning to sell on the Internet should target only young adults? It is possible that while the typical Internet user is young, it is the older Internet user, who probably has access to more discretionary money, who is the typical Internet shopper. While market segmen tation principles tell us that the shopper is going to be different for different products, just as the Internet user is likely to be different for different Internet applications, it is still useful to understand and profile the typical Internet shopper. This is especially important if the typical Internet shopper is going to be different from the typical Internet user. This research is a step in that direction.
Managers recognize the importance …