Change is happening within the US Internet population on many levels. The average age of Internet users is rising in tandem with that of the general population, for example, and racial and ethnic characteristics are more closely mirroring those in the offline population.
eMarketer predicts that in 2010, 221 million people in the US will be online, about 71% of the total population. Their numbers will continue to grow, reaching 250 million in 2014—more than 77% of the population.
“Marketers already know they are navigating a dynamic digital landscape in 2010,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “US Internet Users, 2010.” “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% between 2010 and 2014, compared with 3.9% 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%, respectively. Blacks and Hispanics, while still underrepresented online, will see steady growth in penetration rates, to 72.3% of the black population and 70% 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 groups are blending into the American population and do not want to feel separate from the mainstream.”
The full report, “US Internet Users, 2010,” also answers these key questions:
- What is the makeup of the US Internet population?
- What will it look like in 2014?
- How much time do consumers spend online compared with other media?
- How has the recession affected Internet usage?