August 23, 2010, 3:35 PM

The global online population will increase 43% by 2014

Forrester Research says China will outpace India for e-commerce spending.

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The global online population will grow to 2.32 billion by 2014, up 42% from 1.63 billion in 2009, according to projections from Forrester Research Inc. 

The Middle East and Africa will grow the fastest during that time, an increase of 78%, but still account for the fewest total number of Internet users, 241 million. For e-commerce purposes, the report says areas that are set to have the most growth include Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, and such countries as Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey. In the Asia Pacific, online spending by Chinese consumers  will outpace India. Brazil will continue to lead e-commerce spending in Latin America.

Forrester Research projects the online population in the U.S. and Canada will grow 3% each year through 2014, but will comprise just 13% of the overall online population by 2014, down from 16% in 2009. The European online population will grow approximately 20% between 2010 and 2014 and account for 22% of the online population.

“The sheer number of online buyers and increased online spending per capita will position several emerging markets to challenge their counterparts in North America and Europe from an e-commerce perspective,” says Forrester analyst Zia Daniell Wigder in the report. “E-business executives who want to capture the growing number of online users—and their growing funds spent online—will need to look beyond the markets of North America and Europe and think more truly globally about their online strategies,” she says.

The report recommends companies prioritize which international markets are most important to their business and to focus on how they can differentiate their business through localization strategies. Forrester says translating site content into local languages is a start, but that companies should develop their own marketing tactics for important markets within a region because user behavior can vary widely.

“E-businesses willing to translate into local languages—even if with a small amount of content at first—will find themselves better equipped to take on the increasingly diverse global online user base than their counterparts with English-only web sites,” the report says. 

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