Some ethnic minorities are gaining ground in terms of online presence in the United States, though they still comprise just a fraction of overall Web traffic, according to a new study from Nielsen//NetRatings.
According to NetRatings, the number of Hispanic Web surfers jumped from 6.7 million last year to 7.6 million this year, a 13 percent increase, making Hispanics the fastest-growing ethnic group on the Web.
That 13 percent leap compares with overall Web growth of about 3 percent. NetRatings said 105 million unique Internet users went online in the month of June.
“With the online populations of ethnic Web surfers growing each year, the online landscape is more closely mirroring the offline reality,” said T.S. Kelly, director and principal analyst at NetRatings. “This growth reveals an untapped opportunity for businesses to win over these population groups.”
Closing the Divide?
Other analysts also noted that as minority groups become a stronger presence online, they could help the e-commerce industry keep posting strong growth numbers.
“Older surfers and minority surfers will provide some growth opportunities as they come online,” Harris Interactive e-commerce analyst Lori Iventosch-James told the E-Commerce Times.
“That’s important, since the core base of Internet users has already been exposed to online shopping for some time and there’s only so much growth left there.”
Growth and Stability
According to NetRatings, the number of Web surfers who told researchers they are of Asian or Pacific Island descent grew 6 percent in the past year to 2.4 million. Meanwhile, the number of Caucasian Internet users increased 4 percent to 94 million, and the number of African-American Web surfers rose 3 percent to 7.8 million.
But this news does not mean the so-called digital divide has closed. Hispanics now account for about 7 percent of Web traffic, about the same proportion as African-Americans.
“With the exception of the Hispanic group, the market share of the various ethnicities has remained relatively unchanged,” Kelly said.
NetRatings noted that it recruits participants to its Web-use surveys in English only, a factor that could lead to undercounting of some minorities.
Meanwhile, all ethnic groups used the Web more often in June. Asian Web surfers led the way, initiating an average of 26 Web sessions and spending 16 hours on the Web during the month. Caucasian users went online 21 times — 11 percent more than in the year-ago period — and stayed for 11 hours total, 14 percent longer than in June 2001.
Hispanic surfers logged on 18 times during the month and spent 10 hours total online. African-American Web users engaged in 17 sessions totaling 10 hours.
NetRatings said Yahoo! drew the most Web surfers in June, with a unique audience of 75 million, followed closely by MSN with 71 million.
The top e-commerce site was Amazon.com with 30 million visitors, followed by eBay with 26 million.