So, who do you think is using the Internet? A recent story in
USA Today reported that the number of people accessing the
Net is doubling every 100 days. But just who are those
When I ask this question, the answer is generally "teens." However, in reality, people over 40 are actually accounting for the growth. Breaking it down by gender, according to one major study, women between the ages of 36 and 50 make up the largest number of new female Internet users. The average age of the person on-line now is 37, and on the rise.
Whatever the specific numbers, it's clear that the Web and the Internet are growing by leaps and bounds. You don't need me to tell you that - just look at the ads you see on billboards, on TV, or in magazines. You see "www.something.com" everywhere these days!
Before I throw out some more interesting facts . . . grab a pen. Indulge me for a moment and, in the margin, write down who your target market is. If you're not sure where to begin, think along these lines: gender, education and income.
Now that you've identified your target market, let's find out more about who's surfing the Web. For one thing, every study I've seen concludes that those accessing the Web are typically in a higher income bracket than the average American. Net users are also better educated. According to Cyber Dialogue, 43% hold at least a bachelor's degree. In contrast, only 16% of all Americans can have a B.A. or B.S. Married couples make up 62% of Net users, Cyber Dialogue notes.
What are people doing on-line? Stated simply, the answer is research. In other words, they're gathering the latest information on products and services available to them.
When it comes to people searching the Web for information within the kitchen/bath industry, they're looking for remodeling tips and photographs of innovative designs, as well as information on appliances and advice on managing a project.
I know a kitchen and bath dealer in Philadelphia, who, thanks to his Web site, landed a $100,000 job. A couple in their late 30s wanted to remodel their three-story rowhouse before moving in to it. To save time, they decided to do their research from home, using the Internet. Until they visited the kitchen dealer's Web site, the couple was unaware of the fact that a kitchen dealer can not only design a kitchen, but also design cabinetry for other rooms of the home, as well as do installation work.
Where and how are people accessing the Net? Well, one thing that's clear is that home use is growing. For the first couple of years of the Internet boom, most people were accessing the Web from the workplace. However, as the cost of computers declines, and access to the Net has been made easier thanks to expanded Internet Service Providers, it only stands to reason that getting on-line is easier.
If you aren't on-line yet and you'd at least like to try surfing the Web, head to your local library. Most libraries have Internet access (but call ahead first; usually you need to reserve a block of time).
As an aside: Since more and more people are accessing the Web from home, this may factor into your designs. Does there need to be space at the desk area in the kitchen for a computer? What about that office area you're designing in a guest bedroom or home office?
Now, go back to those notes you made in the margin. Do the demographics of your target client match those of people surfing the Web?
- Income levels that are well above the national average.
- Well-educated and typically married.
- An increasing number of fem-ales between 36 and 50 years old.
- Representative of the growing number of people getting on-line from home.
- Generally research products and services before purchasing.
- The answer should be obvious.
Using the Web
Karla Krengel is v.p. of sales and marketing for WorldView Technologies, Inc., a Chicago-based Web site design firm for designers.