Survey: Consumer Confidence in Web Rises

Christopher Saunders

Updated · Dec 28, 2001

Consumers are more confident in the Web, according to the latest findings from a quarterly study conducted by Yahoo! and market research giant ACNielsen.

The study, which uses an index to calculate changing opinions, polled 1,000 consumers — not necessarily Web users — and found that consumers’ confidence in the Internet has risen ten points since the last quarterly study in September, and one additional one point since October alone.

Since the study’s debut in June, 2001 with an index of 100, consumer confidence has risen to 115. As a result, the average U.S. consumer is more likely to take part in online auctions, purchasing on the Web, and handing over their information, including credit cards, than they were a year ago.

Still, not all the findings are rosy. Thirteen percent fewer consumers say they’re planning to shop online in first quarter, down from 60 percent — a fact that’s only partially offset by increases in the average online dollar spend from $219 in October to $226 in December.

And according to the study, online spending will total nearly $15 billion in the first quarter of 2002, based on intent to purchase — down almost $1 million from consumers’ stated intent for the fourth quarter of 2001.

Still, the companies say the increase could indicate a long-term change in consumers’ attitudes toward the Web, even if current economic realities mean that less money is flowing online. For instance, even months after the Sept. 11, consumers’ increasing confidence in the Web suggests its growing role in daily life in the future.

In part, analysts say the trend is a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — and the fact that people relied on the Internet for communications, news, donations, and potentially, to save time.

Also crucial is that e-commerce firms are widely believed to have better delivered on their marketing promises than last year’s holiday season when several e-tailers were stung by reports of poor customer service and late shipments.

“Successful e-commerce businesses have been able to deliver products and services that truly add value to consumers’ lives, making online transactions increasingly essential to our everyday activities,” said Anke Audeneart, director global market research at Yahoo!. “Over the holiday season consumer savvy e-commerce platforms have remained committed to delivering positive online shopping experiences, which in turn have reinforced consumer confidence.”

Added ACNielsen International Research managing director Travyn Rhall, “Web retailers are becoming more and more accepted as part of the overall consumer shopping experience. It also demonstrates that Internet retailers are building loyal customer bases.”

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