Spring '97 Release of the Internet Demographic Study
CommerceNet / Nielsen Internet Demographics Survey

Of the 220 Million people over the age of 16 in the US & Canada:
23% are using the Internet.
17% are on the WWW.
73% of WWW users search for information about products and services.
5.6 Million people or 15% have purchased online!

"The combination of increased general usage and growth of shopping as an activity, paints an extremely promising future for electronic commerce. This confirms the value proposition for companies planning to use the Internet as a marketing tool."

The population of Internet users has more than doubled since the first CommerceNet/Nielsen Media Internet Demographics Survey was released in Fall 1995. According to the latest results, 23 percent of all persons over 16 years of age in the U.S. and Canada have used the Internet during the past month and still have access today. The study in Fall 95 showed that only 10 percent had used the Internet during the three months prior to the survey. Increased use of the Worldwide Web is also dramatic, more than doubling from eight percent using the Web during the three months prior to the survey in Fall 1995 to 17 percent using the Web during the month prior to this most recent report.

The report also found that women are increasingly using the Internet, now accounting for 42 percent of users in the past three months as compared to 34 percent in the original survey.

As in earlier surveys, this study indicates that Internet users tend to be professional or managers to a greater extent than the total population. However, Internet use is becoming more mainstream. In the Fall 1995 survey, 50 percent of the Internet users were professional or managers. While this number dropped to 39 percent for the most recent survey, it is still well above the average 25 percent--in the U.S. and Canada.

Shopping is one of the most popular activities on the Internet, and the number of people who shop and buy products on the Internet is growing. A large majority of Web users -- 73 percent -- spend some portion of their time online searching for information about a specific product or service. More than half of these users -- 53 percent have searched specifically when making a purchase decision. This is a significant increase over the findings in the Fall 1995 survey, when 55 percent of all Web users used the Web for shopping and only 35 percent prior to an actual purchase.

According to the survey, Web shoppers still outnumber online purchasers. Of all Web users, 15 percent -- or approximately 5.6 million people -- have used it to purchase a product or service online.

"The combination of increased general usage and growth of shopping as an activity, paints an extremely promising future for electronic commerce," said Stacey Bressler, vice president of marketing for CommerceNet. "This confirms the value proposition for companies planning to use the Internet as a marketing tool."

The Spring 97 survey also indicates a clear narrowing of the gender gap on the Internet. According to the survey, of all Internet users in the target group using the Internet in the past three months, 58 percent are male, down from 66 percent in the Fall 1995 report. But when it comes to shopping and buying behaviors, larger differences exist. Males are more likely to search for product information online than females and are more likely to make purchases. Not surprisingly, computer hardware and software is the leading category for attracting both shoppers and buyers on the Internet.