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Who Is Surfing the Net?

Keller Hawthorne | April 17, 2009 | 4 Comments
Understanding the Online Market

General Demographics of Internet Users

Hands RaisedIt’s important to understand who your customers are. There are great resources online to help you understand your target market, which are discussed in other articles. For now, let’s just look at the general demographics of Internet Users.

I’ve added a link to a spreadsheet below with information obtained from Pew Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit research company, which shows the demographics of Internet users. I accessed this information on March 21, 2009. You can view the original data on their website at:

Demographics of Internet Users (opens in new window)

Quick Summary

In their December 2008 survey, Pew Internet found that a higher percentage of adult women use the Internet versus adult men (75% of adult women, 73% of adult men). They also discovered:

  • 94% of adults making $75k per year or more use it versus 57% of those making less than $30k
  • 95% of adults with a college education or more use it versus 35% of those with less than a high school education
  • 87% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 use it versus 41% of adults age 65 and older

Why Is This Important?

We’ve now taken a look at the GENERAL demographics of Internet users. Your customer base will have its own demographics (example: a website focused on hot rods will probably appeal more to the male market than female). One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is assuming they know who their customers are. The truth is you really won’t know until you do the research. By understanding that the majority of your target market is Hispanic or that women are more likely to buy your product than men, you can increase your profits exponentially by aligning your marketing, brand image and customer service with your customers’ styles, cultures and needs.

Again, your target market will have its own characteristics, but the findings above help us understand the overall Internet user population. It also gives us a taste of a topic we will discuss extensively in later articles: Market Research. For now, consider how these findings might affect your business.

Are you surprised by these findings? What did you assume the Internet population looked like?

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