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Women on the Web: Overturning the Assumptions

Women On The WebcomScore, a provider of digital marketing intelligence, recently published their survey findings on women’s Internet browsing behaviour. While confirming certain assumptions (see: women and shopping), the survey also raises some interesting findings (women prefer Bing! who knew?), and highlights other factors, such as overall Internet access, that affect how people manage their time on the Internet.

“Women are actually more engaged than men on the Internet, and they chart their own course. You just have to know where to look.”

Access, Access, Access

Gender differences become very obvious when one looks at early adoption of technology—the case is especially clear with the use of mobile services. In Europe and the United States, the ratio of male smartphone owners to female is about 3:2, with the difference being even greater in other parts of the world. The more limited access to smartphones means that women are therefore not using mobile applications as much as men.

However, while men may still dominate the technological frontier, women are now heavy users of the Internet.

Looking at the global Internet population (note: comScore’s survey excludes Africa), access to the Internet in general is more evenly divided between the genders. Time spent online is also fairly similar, with women clocking an average of 24.8 hours per week to men’s 22.9 hours. However, the percentage of women online varies by region, with access being poorer in the Asia Pacific (42.4%). This implies that as Asia becomes more affluent, ratios will improve to Europe and North America’s levels.

Even so, the number of women online in Asia already outnumbers those online in North America by more than two to one. This large regional market is still growing rapidly.

What Do Women Like to Do Online?

More Online Minutes Spent On Education, Social Networking, Online Retail

Some of the areas where women spend more online minutes compared to men are education, social networking and online retail (though not online auctions). With social networking, one can see women being active in related services as well – photo-sharing, instant messaging, gaming and video-viewing are all very popular.

comScore Social Networking by Gender

This is not to say that women are to be found exclusively in what may be considered as stereotypically female domains—while they do spend less time on areas such as banking or business services and on multimedia applications, the differences are not large.

Women Surf Porn Too

Women can be found enjoying every offering that the Internet has.While fewer women than men view adult websites, it is interesting to note that for women, adult sites rank higher in reach than health, family and parenting websites. Women are also active on gambling websites.

Women Spend More Online, Prefers Multi-Play Channels

With online retail, women spend 20% on retail websites than men, and out-shop them in nearly every genre (electronics, computer goods and music are notable exceptions). They display specific preferences for shopping from vendors with multi-play channels (i.e. brick and mortar stores that have an online presence), as well as for combining retail with a social networking aspect. The recent trend for flash sales through exclusive clubs (e.g. Glit Groupe ) is an example.

So How Do You Reach the Women?

Understand the ecosystem first.

What is the Internet penetration rate like in your target market? Is mobile Internet popular? How are the literacy rates? What is the age group you are targeting? All these questions will help you to understand overall consumer behaviour, as well as how receptive women are likely to be to your specific offerings.

Understand that women are everywhere.

While women’s networks and women’s sites have an edge in drawing the attention of female web-users, don’t limit yourself to just these sites. Women are participating in every part of the Internet, and that’s where you can be, too.

Understand that women do use the web differently.

While both men and women both are keen to pick up new technologies, they do so at different rates, and have different preferences. Want to target women through games? Designing a puzzle or a card game will reach out to more women than with a first-person shooter.

To assume that your customer is defined by just one factor is to miss out on the many different elements that go into how someone makes decisions; be sensitive to all the possible differentiating factors to find your best strategy!

Image credit: codiceinternet

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