Women are the online shoppers of the future

16. 08. 2010.

A growing number of Hungarian online stores are redesigning their image in order to appeal to female shoppers, and current trends indicate that women will make up one-half of all Hungarian online customers by 2012. The number of online shoppers in Hungary totaled nearly 1.1 million over the past year, and the majority of internet users are also browsing the world wide web to do product research prior to shopping, reveals the Report on the Internet Economy published by GKIeNET–T-Mobile.

Changing times

In the early days of internet shopping in the late 90s, those few online store owners who anticipated a rapid boom in online shopping in Hungary within a few years typically sold products and services geared towards men. Consequently, the category systems of early online stores reflected male logic: thematic structure, hierarchic appearance, with images aimed at describing products matter-of-factly rather than evoking emotions.  Impulse shopping was out of the question under these circumstances; therefore, advertisements were not dominant except in some occasional banners.

The world of online shopping has seen tremendous changes, and Hungary is no exception. At the end of the first quarter of 2010, 3.6 million people aged between 14 and 74 (42% of the entire population) used the internet for a minimum of one hour per month, and nearly 1.1 million consumers made a purchase via the internet during the twelve months preceding this period.

The number of internet shoppers can be measured in various ways. For example, the question “Have you ever purchased any products or services over the internet?” monitors the total number of people who ever tried online shopping. A more effective system, however, is the assessment of regular shoppers, for example those who made an online purchase over the past twelve months, given that this group contributes more significantly to sales figures.

Figure 1. Number of internet users and online shoppers in Hungary (Q1 2010)

Source: GKIeNET – T-Mobile

Female online shoppers

Shopping, or the acquisition of everyday consumer goods in the household segment, is generally associated with women. Yet, the first items to be sold in online stores were mostly durable consumer goods for the most part, owing to their higher per-item value as well as the dominance of male online shoppers. The percentage of male online shoppers has always been higher in Hungary, even though their proportion within the entire population is lower, given that women’s life expectancy at birth is almost 8 years higher than men’s.

Figure 2. Online shoppers as a percentage of the Hungarian population, by gender (aged 14 to 74)

Source: GKIeNET – T-Mobile

The online sales of food and household chemical products, clothing, as well as toys increasingly involve women in internet shopping. As a result, women are expected to make up 50% of all internet shoppers by 2012, breaking the trend of male dominance.

Figure 3. Internet shoppers by gender (14 to 74 years)

Source: GKIeNET – T-Mobile

Trust is the key

The appearance of online stores is changing in line with this trend: simplified category systems are increasingly being replaced by attractive product displays accompanied by images in warm-toned colors and price labels accentuating the percentage discount rather than the actual price, catering to the preferences of women shoppers. The focus on female shoppers creates a striking change in both the appearance and the offerings of online stores.

The majority of Hungarian internet users go online to gather information prior to shopping. The past few years have shown, though, that the percentage of those who made online purchases in the past year changes in line with the rate of internet banking customers, clearly reflecting consumers’ trust in electronic transactions.

Figure 4. Online activities of consumers (14 to 74 years)

Source: GKIeNET – T-Mobile