Indiameter.com, a Bangalore-based e-research organisation, has come out with a white paper on initial findings and implications of online user behaviour and habits.
This is one of the first few studies on emerging behaviour patterns of the Indian Internet user. Indiameter.com has gathered the data for this with its proprietary IM-user tracking software. The software resides across the country on user computers. Data on user behaviour is obtained on a daily basis.
The survey, with a sample size of about 30,000 households in India indicates the increasing acceptance of computers and the Internet. Conducted across socio-economic classes, the survey indicates Net penetration in SEC A1 at 14 per cent today. For SEC A2 and B1 the corresponding penetration figures are 7 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.
Over 25 per cent of the people with Internet access at work had access at home as well. The survey also says that the national average for the female users is about 30 per cent. While the number of women users are on the rise, the home sector is set for high levels of penetration.
According to the survey, there is a clear pattern of three kinds of sites that the user visits. While he visits about five unique sites per day, each user develops his own set of "Core Sites." These are defined as those sites that a user visits more than 80 per cent of the days he goes online.
These include mail or infotainment sites. In certain cases, these also include special interest sites. There are 8 million Web pages that were India focussed or catering to Indian interests. The Indian user has developed an average of about one core site. With greater Net savviness, this percentage is expected to increase.
We are all hooked on one core site - at least "Outer core sites" form the second level. These sites are visited by the person more than half the number of days when he goes online. These often are sites of special interest like travel and finance. In this case, the Indian user was found to have developed an average of just over two core sites.
At the third level, the survey has the "Peripheral Sites." These are sites visited by the person more than twenty per cent of the days he goes online. These niche sites average around four in number. In fact, users tend to visit a few sites on a daily basis while many sites are visited just once according to the survey. The findings indicate that core sites have a very significant share of mind besides being high on time spend and trust factors. Interestingly, a lack of trust among users has been one of the biggest impediments in the growth of e-commerce.
Core sites, as a result, have high advertising rates and access to external capital. Internationally, Yahoo! and AOL are profitable while those in the second rung - Excite, Snap - are not. A specialised site will have to be the most preferred in its domain according to the survey. What is needed is strong consumer orientation coupled with a superior backend. In the Indian Internet market, the study predicts, general portals will dominate in the short run. As the market matures, specialised sites will increase in importance The study also indicates that as a person spends more time online, he also spends less time on search efforts. The US market also has similar trends as far as this is concerned.
Net usage in the study falls under three behavioural categories:
utilitarian, which is basic email, infotainment and chat; interest groups which are specialised; and exploratory usage.
User behaviour is seen as a combination of all three with a primary disposition towards one of them. Time Concentration Factor (TCF) is the term used to differentiate these categories in terms of extent of concentration. This is used to describe the number of sites that account for 80 per cent of the users' online time spend. A core site for a person with a low TCF would be the ideal situation for the marketer. The study has also devised a Site Stickiness Index (SSI) which suggests that sites with high frequency of customer visits and share of time can justifiably claim to be successes.