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TGI Global Barometer

Online shoppers around the world
November 2004

When it comes to shopping online, consumers in Britain are leading the way according to the latest figures from TGI.  A third of British adults aged over 18 claimed to have made a purchase using the internet in the last 12 months, representing an increase of 22% since last year. Other countries where relatively large numbers of consumers are opting to shop online include Australia, the US and Germany.

Growth markets for online buying

The research reveals people are taking up internet shopping at different rates in different markets. In both China and Romania for example just 1% of consumers claim to have purchased something online. This is partly due to lower levels of internet penetration in some countries, however, even among internet users the number who actually choose to shop online varies greatly by country. For instance, the 6% of people who buy online in Spain represent less than a fifth of all internet users in that country; a stark contrast with South Africa where almost two thirds of internet users (64%) have made a purchase online.

Security may well be a significant hindrance to the popularity of internet shopping in many markets. In Spain, where levels of online shopping are relatively low, more than a quarter (28%) of internet users say that they would do their shopping by internet if their was a safe way to pay.  Consumers in Saudi Arabia share the sentiment with 43% saying that improved security would influence their decision to shop online.

Top internet purchases

It isn't wise assume that people everywhere are using the internet to buy the same types of goods or services. According to the results, books and clothes are the most popular internet purchases in Japan, but in South Africa, music, videos and computer software/games come out top.

In Great Britain, the proportion of people buying music, videos and DVDs, books, clothes, groceries, computer software and tickets for events online have all grown considerably over the last few years, suggesting that internet shopping is becoming an increasingly established means of purchasing goods and services for personal use. The only area which has not seen much growth is online business purchases, representing a significant opportunity for companies selling goods business to business.

E-shopping set to soar?

Regardless of the disparity in numbers of online buyers in different parts of the world, the internet is certainly having a profound effect on the way people do their shopping across the globe.  In the US for example, 42% of people say that the internet has changed the way they look for information on products, and over a quarter of consumers (26%) in Saudi Arabia say that to do their shopping by internet would make their lives easier.

And shifts in behaviour relating to online shopping are happening even in markets where it is less common and there are more obstacles to overcome. In China for example, there are currently a limited number of local shopping sites for consumers to choose from, and the cost of postage and shipping prohibits not only overseas purchases but often those from within China too.  Issues of online payment options in a market where cash is still king are also proving to be a barrier. However, the last year has nonetheless seen an increase in popularity amongst students and young professionals to order small items such as books, gifts and make-up online.


Percentage of online buyers in 15 national markets*

Source: TGI Global
Base: Individuals Aged 18+

*excludes holidays/travel and related items

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