In search of the typical PC buyer

In search of the typical PC buyer

True or false: the declining cost of owning a PC has prompted many low-income families to join the digital revolution.

The answer, according to a new study of consumer PC buying habits, is false. The report by data analysis firm InfoBeads reveals that low-income households (under $US20,000) accounted for only 8 per cent of PC purchases during the first quarter of 1999.

But during that period, several PC makers began selling PCs at unprecedented low prices of about $US600 plus some change.

When low-income household members buy PCs, they tend to purchase systems that are more sophisticated than computers with rock-bottom price tags, according to Dave Tremblay, InfoBeads' senior industry analyst.

The reason is that low-income buyers are often not as technically savvy as their mid- to upper-income counterparts, and they think cheap PCs will be more difficult to use, he explains.

Results from the InfoBeads report are based on interviews with some 30,000 households about their PC buying habits during the first three months of 1999. Among the other findings:

The greatest percentage (14 per cent) bought a PC for a home-based business, followed by educational purposes for adults (12 per cent) and children (11 per cent). Nearly 10 per cent said they bought a PC for Web research. Only about 6 per cent listed computer games as their primary use.

Males still tend to be the primary PC users of household PC systems purchased in the first quarter. Of the households surveyed, in 33 per cent women were the primary PC users.

In terms of education, 25 per cent of households had a college graduate as the primary PC user.

As mentioned earlier, only 8 per cent of primary users had a household income of $US20,000 or less. The greatest percentage (26 per cent) had incomes of $20,000 to $40,000, followed closely by those with $60,000 to $100,000 (25 per cent) and $40,000 to $60,000 (24 per cent).

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