July 7, 2003, 12:00 AM

Asian Americans lead other ethnic groups in online buying, Forrester finds

Younger and wealthier, Asians will pay for convenience -- but online discounters could lure more blacks and Hispanics if they promote brands at prices that beat offline.

Shoppers tend to buy from different retail formats--including online--according to factors such as demographics and income, but ethnic group identification is also a factor, according to data from Forrester Research Inc.

While, overall, consumers surveyed by Forrester said they purchased online an average of 3.2 times per year, the tendency to buy online varies by ethnic group. Asians buy online an average of 6 times per year, nearly twice as often as any other ethnic group, including whites who buy online an average 3.3 times per year; blacks, 1.8 times; and Hispanics, 3 times.

Forrester points out that Asians` higher propensity to buy online also reflects demographic factors. Youth and wealth are both key indicators of higher technology consumption, and Asian consumers are both the youngest and wealthiest ethnic group in the U.S.–-a reason that Asians shop more frequently both online and in electronics stores than other ethnic groups do.

Forrester says online marketers have an opportunity in blacks’ and Hispanics’ lower propensity to shop online to attract them to e-commerce by aiming at what drives these groups’ purchases, given lower average household incomes. The convenience of buying online doesn’t matter as much to many blacks and Hispanics, who may be more concerned about price than convenience, says Forrester analyst Chris Kelley. Discount online retailers such as Overstock.com and Target.com and marketplaces like eBay should promote the web to these groups as a place to buy name brands at better prices than they might find offline, Kelley says.



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