Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, April 17, 2010

U.S. Online Population Diversity is Evolving


According to the latest market assessment by eMarketer, significant change is happening within the U.S. online population. The average age of Internet users has risen -- to more closely align with the general population.

In addition, racial and ethnic characteristics are now mirroring those in the offline population.

eMarketer predicts that in 2010, 221 million people in the U.S. will be online -- about 71 percent of the total population. Their numbers will continue to grow, reaching 250 million in 2014 -- more than 77 percent of the population.

"Marketers already know they are navigating a dynamic digital landscape in 2010," said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst. "In five years, the results of some demographic shifts now taking place will become more evident. Internet users will be older, and many will have lower levels of education and annual income."

"One thing is certain," she said. "They will be more diverse racially and ethnically and expect marketing messages to appeal to them."

Growth is still occurring among all races and ethnicities of Internet users. eMarketer estimates the Internet population will increase 13.4 percent between 2010 and 2014 -- compared with 3.9 percent for the general population.

Despite their already high Internet use, non-Hispanic whites and Asians will see further penetration by 2014, to 81.2 and 81 percent, respectively. Blacks and Hispanics, while still underrepresented online, will see steady growth in penetration rates, to 72.3 percent of the black population and 70 percent of Hispanics.

"Marketers should use multicultural marketing campaigns to target Asian, blacks and Hispanic audiences, because most are proud of their heritage and appreciate marketers who reach out to them with cultural messages," said Ms. Phillips.

But keep in mind that all these minority consumer groups are blending into the American population and do not want to feel separate from the mainstream.