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Consumers increasingly happy on the Net

Internet Economics

June 27, 1999
Web posted at: 7:26 p.m. EST (0026 GMT)

by Sharon Machlis

NEW YORK (IDG) -- Newsweek readers say they can easily find what they're looking for on the Internet, shop for a wider variety of products online than they did six months ago and are more likely to trust Web sites developed by established brand names, magazine officials said this morning at a press conference here at PC Expo.

According to a survey (see "Newsweek Internet survey," link below) of 2,351 volunteer readers and Internet users conducted by NFO Interactive in Northwood, Ohio, 73 percent said they are able to find what they want online. More than three-quarters (77.7 percent) made an online purchase in the past 12 months, and 41.8 percent reported that they encourage family and friends to buy on the Web. "I doubt we could get 40 percent of our readers to recommend a trip to Disneyworld," said Michael Rogers, editor and general manager of

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The study doesn't reflect the population at large, Newsweek and NFO Interactive officials acknowledged, but rather leading-edge, high-demographic consumers who are likely to predict where the overall consumer market is headed.

Travel-related items were the most popular purchase category among the respondents (39.9 percent), followed by computers (32.1 percent) and financial services (12.1 percent). Pharmaceuticals, a relatively new category, rang in at 7.4 percent.

The inclination of consumers to head to trusted corporate names on the Internet should be good news for major companies hoping to battle start-ups in cyberspace, panelists said. "Brand is king on the Internet," noted Lee Smith, vice president of marketing and business development at NFO Interactive.

However, marketing specialist Michael Tchong, editor of the e-mail newsletter "Iconocast," warned that savvy investors with deep pockets and good marketers can develop an online brand name to rival those in the brick-and-mortar world. "Brands," he said, "can come up faster than you can say holy cow."

Other survey details:

  • 41 percent of respondents made five or more online purchases in the past six months (the study was conducted in May).

  • 43 percent prefer reading a book or magazine to surfing the Web.

  • 60 percent have used the Internet for at least three years

  • 91 percent have access to the Internet at home, and only 75 percent access it from work.

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Newsweek Internet survey
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