The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reported last month that the number of people research and purchasing goods online continued to rise. In 2010, 58% of adults reported they conducted product or service research online , compared with 49% in 2004.
From 2000, Americans purchasing products rose from 36% to 52% today. While it’s not a one-to-one correlation, it would seem that most of the people researching end up buying online as well.
Probably the big news was that 24% of Americans said that they posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy. That’s almost half of the people who do buy online. It seems like there’s a lot of room to get this talkative audience to share more.
I’m actually surprised that the numbers aren’t higher, at least for researching and buying. Basically, a little more than half of Americans are online searchers and researchers. Half. Why aren’t more people in the e-commerce habit? From what you read in the media today, it sounds like everyone is there.
The same report said that those in higher income and education brackets do more product research than those in lower income and education brackets.
So the digital divide is bringing that number down. You have to guess that if people can’t afford a computer at home, then they’ll do their research at work. Unless, of course, companies and organizations they work for have restrictive Internet policies, which many do.
It seems that, for the good of all e-commerce, that workers should have the right to a certain amount of time, while at work, to conduct personal business on the Internet. Just like they probably do, when it comes to talking on the telephone. Two technologies you can use for personal and business reasons.
I wonder too if this also shows a digital divide between the stores people shop at and their online capabilities. Maybe there are still a group of businesses whose Web sites and e-commerce capabilities are close to non-existent, so there’s no real reason to do any research online in the first place.
If the challenge is an income issue, then we, parents, taxpayers and policy makers, need to do a better job of educating people, in schools, at work centers, and at work, on how to use the Internet. If these numbers hold out, our economy may depend on it.
50% isn’t good enough.