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Shopping must wait, netizens are busy playing
[December 27, 2006]

Shopping must wait, netizens are busy playing

(The Economic Times (India) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) : India's never-ending appetite for entertainment has found a new extension in cyberspace. Close to 66% of metropolitan Indian netizens are now indulging in various forms of online entertainment, ranging from games to downloading music or videos, while financial activities on the Net or even shopping appear to have been relegated to the margins, according to a report by Forrester Research.

However, in pure percentage terms, India trails neighbouring China where 89% of the urban online consumers indulge in entertainment activities on the Net.

The Forrester report, The Asian Way: One PC Per Three Generations, notes that in the case of metropolitan China, Hong Kong, and metropolitan India, entertainment activities were much more prevalent than online shopping.

"With 89% of urban Chinese online consumers, 80% of Hong Kong consumers, and 66% of urban Indian online consumers engaging in entertainment activities online, marketers can find consumers on game, music, and video sites," Forrester said. As the action hots up in cyberspace, marketers too are taking stock of the new medium and responding with separate internet strategies. "India is a robust market growing at around 7.4% compared to a paltry 2.4% growth in the US. Blogs, gaming and other forms of entertainment are a big opportunity for branding for Indian marketers," says Harish Bijoor, a marketing consultant.

Mass brands such as Motorola, Pepsi (Bluebillion), and even FMCG behemoth like Hindustan Lever Limited (Sunsilk Gang of Girls) have been quick to adapt to the internet. "Our choice of media is changing as our communication is directed to the youth. That is where the internet plays a huge part," says Lloyd Mathias, marketing director, Motorola India.

According to Forrester, the percentage of urban online consumers in India, who engaged in financial actvities including bidding or selling in online auctions, checking stock quotes, trading stock, paying bills, checking bank accounts and making bank transfers, was less than 10%, and those indulging in online shopping even lesser (less than 5%).

South Koreans also show a preference for online entertainment, with 73% of online consumers seeking fun activities online. By comparison, 54% of South Koreans engage in financial activities online and 62% in online shopping. Online Aussies, on the other hand, preferred financial activities to entertainment - 88% versus 74% - while also showing tremendous engagement with online shopping at 69%. Japan was almost as invested in online finance as it is in entertainment and shopping.

The report concludes that despite the PC availability gap in many Asian countries, marketers and manufacturers have big opportunities to reach and serve Asian consumers. "The PC availability gap exists primarily because of a lack of disposable income.

Manufacturers should think beyond the one-person-one-PC model that drives Western markets and instead develop a multiuser PC, where computers come with an extra monitor and keyboard, thus serving two family members for less than the cost of a second computer," it said adding that such a move would require a radical rethink of the Windows operating system and PC parts lists.

Interactive marketers also need to step into the shoes of an Asian family to see where interactivity intersects family life. "For instance, in a home with fewer PCs but high interest in online entertainment, family members might be more inclined to share an entertaining video or game with their family. That suggests a different balance for online advertising - less search marketing and more video preroll ads," it said.

Copyright 2006 The Economic Times of India, Coleman & Co Ltd. Source : Financial Times Information Limited

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