AT-WORK ONLINE SHOPPERS AS WEB'S MOTHER LODE?

New Report Cites Affluence, Savvy and Access to High-Speed Connections

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Although still viewed by many as a narrow slice of the online market, the 50.1 million U.S. residents who access the Internet at work may be the Web's real mother lode, according to a new report
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by the Wall Street Journal Online and e-Marketer.

The just-released market analysis, entitled "An Elephant in the Room, the Online At-Work Audience," promotes the idea that at-work users are being ignored by marketers who don't understand their purchasing clout.

The report mixes original research and an amalgamation of previous research to paint a detailed picture of at-work users as the most affluent, savvy and eager group of online U.S. consumers.

Work purchases dominate
For instance, citing comScore Media Metrix data, the report notes that 60% of the $53 billion spent online by consumers in 2001 occurred in the workplace, compared to 36% from home.

The latest survey data indicates that 87% of at-work Internet users do so via high-speed (or broadband) office connections that encourage more intensive Internet use.

The report documents an at-work online audience as a uniquely large group of educated and affluent shoppers who regularly troll the Web to research personal interests and make purchasing decisions.

"The whole purpose of this report is to bring all the information to bear [that was previously in piecemeal fashion] and to critically assess the size, shape and opportunity that the at-work audience provides advertisers," said Geoff Ramsay, principal, eMarketer.

Most of the companies involved in backing the various cited studies sell online advertising, sponsorships or related online marketing services. Along with the Journal Online and eMarketer, these include the Online Publishers Association; Avenue A, the Seattle-based digital media and marketing agency; Forbes.com; and Washington Post Co.'s Washington Post Newsweek Interactive.

High salaries
More than 40% of the 50.1 million American workers who routinely access the Internet while on the job earn more than $75,000 a year, according to the report. And 21.7% of that number make more than $100,000 a year.

Among the main points of the report are:

  • 37% of the U.S. workforce -- or 50.1 million people -- is online at work.

  • 70% of at-work Internet users have a bachelor's degree or higher, according to Millward Brown Intelliquest/Online Publishers Association.

  • 78.7% are ages 25 to 54, according to comScore Media Metrix.

  • At-work Internet usage starts at 8 a.m. and peaks between 10 a.m. and noon; it winds down after 4 p.m., according to Nielsen/NetRatings

  • The top daypart for business-related shopping online is 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., positioning newspapers as an potentially effective vehicle for reaching business decision-makers, according to MORI Research.

Heavy on news Web sites
Previous research has established that up to 67% of all at-work users go to news Web sites more than other categories such as shopping, travel, sports and job listings. That figure shot to 92% in a survey that focused only on business decision-makers. Forty-five percent of the business decision-makers read financial news and stock listings; 44% of them researched potential related purchases; 33% were online purchasing business-related products and services; and 30% researched competitors.

According to the report, the findings stand in stark contrast to at-work Internet users' attitudes toward TV advertising -- 35% favored TV to learn about new products and to help them decide what to buy; while 20% said they turn to TV to hear about new companies; and only 18% said TV ads delivered rich, valuable information.

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