A number of studies have been released over the past few months exploring the behaviors, purchasing habits and needs of women online.
- BlogHer released the 2010 Social Media Matters report in March 2010, a few months prior to the other studies listed in this post. This study was produced in partnership with iVillage and Ketchum, with the U.S. online general population survey fielded by Nielsen.
- comScore Media Metrix, the Internet traffic measurement giant, just released a report called “Women on the Web” (How Women are Shaping the Internet; June 2010).
- The Yahoo! Connectonomics team just completed a study that focused on how online advertisers and marketers can shape campaigns by recognizing women’s needs.(June 2010)
- Additionally, digital research company Unicast released a study in June 2010 called “What Women Want from the Web.”
Did any of these studies about women online have similar findings? There were a few core commonalities that were abundantly clear.
- Social media has experienced an enormous surge of growth over the past year and women are driving much of it.
- The most prominent reason women cite for using social media is to “connect with others.”
- Three of the four studies (BlogHer, comScore and Unicast) mentioned the high rate of time women spend being engaged by games online.
Taking a look at each of the studies individually reveals some interesting differences as well. Each study applied a unique focus to learn what motivates women’s choices online.BlogHer 2010 Social Media Matters Study
In March 2010, BlogHer conducted its annual social media study. The study was fielded across 2,500 blogs, (20+ million users) with a sample size of 1,782 women. It was simultaneously fielded to a separate U.S. online population of 1,373 women on the Nielsen panel. With a definite “blog-centric” vision, the 2010 Social Media Matters study had many goals:
- Size and scope social media usage in the U.S. and note annual growth
- Compare media activity levels across traditional and new media platforms
- Contrast BlogHer’s users with the total U.S. online population. Comparisons proved that BlogHer’s audience is more deeply immersed in social media than the U.S. population of women as a whole. They are “super-communicators.”
The BlogHer Audience Visits Daily
BlogHer’s users are “super communicators”:
- 8X more likely than the U.S. population to read blogs daily
- 7X more likely than the U.S. population to Twitter daily
The BlogHer study also determined which social media platforms were preferred destinations for a variety of product purchasing objectives. Blogs were chosen by more women (59%) as a source for new product information, as compared to message boards (38%) and social networks (20%). Women trust blogs to find out about new products. BlogHer’s audience was asked:“Which online sources are best suited to find out about new products?”
Preferred Destinations for New Product Information
When factoring in both frequency of usage and level of influence, blogs scored just under Internet search engines as a valuable tool for helping with purchasing decisions. And blogs were well ahead of traditional media sources, such as print newspapers, magazines and television in this area.
- BlogHer's community controls their household purse strings, and their online activities influence their purchase behaviors.
- Women turn to a variety of online sources before making purchases.
- Women turn to some sources more frequently than others, and some sources have more influence than others. The combination of Frequency + Influence = Purchasing Behavior.
- Blogs are now a fundamental part of that equation for the BlogHer community.
Frequency + Influence = Purchasing Behavior
ComScore Media Metrix: Women on the Web
ComScore, Inc. released their women’s study in June 2010. It is the only one we are reviewing in this post that was fielded globally. The comScore report provides an excellent quantitative analysis of women’s online activities and usage habits by region and nationality.
Women 18+ make up 46% of the world’s Internet population. North America has the highest usage (50%), followed by Latin America (48%), Europe (47%) and Asia-Pacific (42%). By country, the U.S., New Zealand, Russia and Canada have the highest percentages of female users.
Women are more engaged, spending nearly two hours more per month online than men. Their #1 activity online is social networking. According to comScore, 9 out of 10 women in North America visited a social networking site in April 2010.Yahoo Connectonomics: Marketing to Women Online
Yahoo recently released a study focusing on the most effective ways advertisers could reach women online. They had a multi-layered methodology, combining 15 hours of one-on-one telephone interviews with the results of 8 focus groups and a quantitative survey fielded across 3,000 respondents in the U.S.
Yahoo’s insights department focused on proving that online marketing effectiveness is a function of women’s needs + channels used + receptivity. To determine this formula, they examined the following:
- What needs are fundamentally important to women?
- What do specific online channels (blogs, social media, lifestyle sites) mean to women?
- On which channels are women more receptive to advertising/marketing messages?
The results suggested that when it comes to blogs, advertisers should target relevant verticals (e.g. fashion, products, etc.) to best engage women by the topics that interest them. For social network channels, the study suggested that advertisers find ways to integrate brands because traditional display advertising is considered disruptive. The Yahoo study also included marketing recommendations for other online channels, including women’s lifestyle sites, review sites, online communities, email, IM and Twitter (which they analyzed individually).Unicast: What Women Want from the Web
Unicast fielded an online survey to 1,000 adults 18+ across the U.S., of which 516 were women.
Like BlogHer’s social media study, Unicast focused on women’s digital activities, as well as their e-commerce and product purchasing behaviors. When asked what they planned to do this summer online, 76% of the women said “connect with family and friends”. Two thirds of the women in the study (67%) called the Internet a “shopper’s best friend” and said they will use it to search for deals this summer.
Unicast also focused on the types of sites women planned to visit this summer, and blogs were high on the list. In fact, 69% said they would visit a blog to find information about sales, discounts or special promotion codes.
Blogs and social networks are now mainstream activities for women across the board in the U.S. They are deeply engaged by social media, and now spend more time there then men (51% of social networking category demographic is women, according to comScore July 2010 U.S.). Blogs and social network sites are extremely valuable resources for women now, providing an essential pipeline for connections, for entertainment and for helping make the most of their money with purchasing decisions.
Jane K. Collins is BlogHer's director of market research. Prior to BlogHer, she worked as director of consumer insights at MySpace in Beverly Hills, CA, and as VP research for Nielsen Media Research in Los Angeles and NY.
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