Six Degrees of Internet Shoppers

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Internet shoppers can be divided into six groups of nearly equal size, according to a Harris Interactive study commissioned by online rebates firm ebates Shopping Inc.

Released last week, the survey was administered in December by Harris Interactive, San Francisco, to 3,042 respondents who have made at least one purchase online. It gauged shopping attitudes, behavior and online and offline demographics.

Ranked from most satisfied to least satisfied with the online shopping experience, the six online shopper types are:

* Brand Loyalists, 19 percent -- These people are most likely to head straight to the Web site of a retailer, are most satisfied with shopping on the Internet and spend the most money online.

* Hunter Gatherers, 20 percent -- Mostly married, these shoppers are typically 30 to 49 years old with two children. They often shop at sites for analysis and price comparisons of products and services.

* Hooked, Online and Single, 16 percent -- Mostly young single males with high incomes, this group has been online longer than the other groups. Internet activities include game playing, software downloads, banking, investing and shopping.

* Clicks-and-Mortar, 23 percent -- A group that likes to shop online but buy offline, it is more likely to comprise female homemakers. Still insecure about privacy and security when buying online, this profile frequently visits terrestrial shopping malls.

* Time-Sensitive Materialists, 17 percent -- Looking for convenience and time savings, this group does not like to read product reviews, use coupons or compare prices.

* E-Bivalent Newbies, 5 percent -- This somewhat older population is the newest to the Web, spends the least time online and is least likely to shop on the Internet.

"The two kinds of segments that are most interesting for the future are the time-sensitive materialists and the clicks-and-mortar groups because these are people that do a lot of shopping but not all of it online yet," said Alex Lapidus, vice president of marketing at ebates Shopping Inc., San Francisco.

"For the time-sensitive folks, the Internet provides them great opportunities to deliver convenience. For the clicks-and-mortars -- who do a lot of off-line shopping and are often buying for their families -- it's an opportunity to have them make more purchases online over time."

Also, online retailers should work harder to reduce the fears of new converts to the Internet, according to P. Linda Pacheco, research scientist at Harris Interactive.

"What comes through is the fact that the smallest population is the newbies," Pacheco said. "If retailers want to go for women [who form a sizable component of newbies] all the more, something will have to be done to make women do more shopping online."

To put this research to work, this week will give visitors a brief quiz to determine which type of online shopper they are. In return, visitors will get a T-shirt with a caricature of their shopper type on it.

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