March 4, 2002, 12:00 AM

The young, hip and affluent will fade as a web shopping force, Jupiter says

Within five years, plus-50 users will represent 30% of new online shoppers. Average household income among online shoppers will drop from more than $70,000 to less than $65,000, says a new report from Jupiter.


Fueled by the increasing number of middle-income Americans shopping online and a growing number of plus-50 users among new Internet shoppers, the next generation of online shoppers will differ considerably from the younger and more affluent users who were first to shop the web, according to new research from Jupiter Media Metrix Inc.

“They‘ll be more representative of middle-class America. Retailers who want to appeal to these new shoppers must study their changing customer base to ensure that their offerings do not become irrelevant to a continually changing population,” says Jupiter senior analyst Ken Cassar.

Customers aged 50 and up will increase to about 30% of new Internet shoppers within five years, though they make up only 16% of that population now, according to Jupiter. Correspondingly, 19- to 35-year-olds, who now represent 47% of the online shopping population, will account for only 19% of new shoppers by 2006. And the greater flux of middle-income shoppers is expected to reduce the average income of web shoppers across the board to less than $65,000 from its current level of more than $70,000.

The changing demographics of the online shopper also will influence what sells online, Jupiter notes. As more women shift more of their household budgets online, apparel will grow as a category. And as the population of older users increases online, so will the online prescription drug market, says Jupiter. Kitchen products and small and large appliances, which typically perform well among women and older consumers, are expected to experience strong growth online over the next five years.

“With the online shopping population expected to change, retailers must anticipate these changes in their customer base rather than react to changes in sales patterns,” says Cassar. “They must track transaction data, survey customers, analyze the evolving customer base and quickly make appropriate changes.”


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