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The Net Moves to the Middle

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Two months ago, the Briefing cited a Yahoo Internet Life report that stated Net users were, basically, hipper, younger, richer and better educated than their non-Web surfing counterparts.

Specifically, the report (IQ Morning Briefing, May 2) stated that 38 percent of Web users had average annual incomes of more than $50,000, whereas only 12 percent of non-Web users could count on that much money per year. Also, Net users were on average close to 38 years old; non-Net users: 48.7.

Now market research company Insight Express, in a new survey, has introduced data that seems to corroborate Yahoo's happy findings, but also notes that the U.S. online population is beginning to look more and more like the rest of the country, which isn't always that hip, young or rich.

Stamford, Conn.-based Insight states, for example, that in 1996 the online population had an average household income of $62,700. By May of 2001, that figure dropped to $49,800, which is a lot closer to the official 1999 U.S. census figure for average household income: $40,816. In 1996, adults 50 years and older comprised only 12 percent of the Net population; this year that figure is up to 24 percent, nearer to the figure--37 percent--that they occupied in the 2000 U.S. population census.

DATA POINTS:
--Adults 18-49 still dominate the Web population. But in 2001, 76 percent of Net users were in that age group, down from 88 percent in 1996. By comparison, adults 18-49 comprised 63 percent of the general U.S. population according to the 2000 U.S. census report.

--The number of females has finally caught up to the number of males on the Internet. In '96, women claimed only 38 percent of all Net users. This year that figure is up to 51 percent, mirroring the official 2000 U.S. population census figures (49% male; 51 percent female).

Source: Insight Express, May 2001. Insight's 2001 data is culled from a base of 500 consumers.