Ten Million More Females Online

Over half internet enthusiasts as female.
Women comprise 51.6% of the US online population and represent 60% of online spending. By 2008 there will be roughly 10 million more females online than males according to a new eMarketer study. The product categories traditionally dominated by female shoppers are the fastest growing categories on the web.

Online retailers, who can be expected to benefit most from the growth, are rethinking and retooling their sites to make it more interesting and effective for women to do business with them. Traditionally, sites were designed by men for themselves, which could be a liability for the future. It’s time for change.

Category Growth. Category growth reflects increasing influence of women online. The retail segments where women regularly spend the most money are the same ones experiencing the largest online growth. It will continue. Jupiter predicts that home improvement, grocery, over-the-counter drugs and personal care categories will see steep online sales growth (30% or more a year). Jewelry and watch sales grew 67% between 2003 and 2004, and furniture and appliances increased 58%.

Women are taking control over buying in sectors that have traditionally been dominated by men, like electronic gear. Women accounted for over half of last year’s electronic spending. Women shoppers made the decisions on $55 billion of the $96 billion spent between 2003 and 2004, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Home Depot actively courts females in stores. For instance, a hammock on the front of their home page has a Mother’s Day focus. Visitors are shown photos of an entire room of Home Depot products that have been assembled as they would look in real life. Women are unlikely to prefer shopping on a site only capable of offering small pictures of hundreds of light fixtures without providing a way to see products in context.

Lands End, one of the first online retailers to provide a more complete and higher value shopping experience, has been rewarded for its efforts. Lands End has one of the highest visitor conversion rates in the industry. Conversion rate means the visitors to the site ended up making a purchase before leaving the site. Lands End offers virtual models and fast and easy outfit building.

Sources: emarketer, Neilsen, Goldman Sachs, Kamaron Institute

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