In retailing, knowledge and information about what is happening in your marketplace is power. A couple of recently released survey results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) clearly outline the changing computer marketplace that is helping to make retailing the mainstream activity it is in this industry today. We all knew the profile of computer users and buyers was changing, but now there are published statistics to demonstrate it.
In an ABS report titled Household use of Information Technology, it was revealed that approximately 42 per cent of Australian households now have a personal computer, while a further 400,000 intend buying one before February 1999. Additionally, 2.4 million households (up 23 per cent on last year) are estimated to use computers at least once a week.
Not surprisingly, in light of recent software title sales trends, entertainment (ie: games) is listed as the most popular use.
The rise of the Internet
Demonstrating Australia's high rate of com-puter literacy, the 42 per cent of Australian households with computers was only slightly behind that recorded by US homes, where the figure comes in at 44.8 per cent.
A good indication of the rise of the Internet comes from the fact that just over 13 per cent of households (850,000 homes) had Internet access as at February this year, while a further 470,000 already with a computer but without access to the Net indicated that they would be acquiring it by February 1999.
The results from the ABS survey revealed that adults are still the major users with 7.5 million having accessed a computer in the last 12 months and 76 per cent of these (5.7 million people) doing so more than once a week.
And on that note
A separate ABS survey titled Use of the Internet by Householders showed the number of people accessing the Internet to be doubling every year since 1996 when there were only around 250,000 home Internet users. In just two years that figure blew out to one million.
Patterns to emerge from the survey show that the Internet is still mainly used by young people for research and entertainment. The 18Ð24 years age bracket represents 42 per cent of all people who have paddled out to surf the Web, while it was estimated only 207,000 of the three million who had accessed the Internet from work, home or other sources had made private purchases via the Internet.
As the biggest population centres, NSW and Victoria had the greatest proportion of Web surfers (970,000 and 880,000 respectively), while the proportion of people using the Internet in rural areas is only about half that of the cities.