Consumers on the Web: Identification of usage patterns

Nina Koiso-Kanttila


This article analyzes consumer behavior on the Web. The purpose is to research patterns that characterize consumer actions in this environment. The study employs Nielsen//NetRatings Internet panel data in Finland. The four-month data for 65 panelists suggest three interrelated Web usage patterns that are highlighted here. The text will outline how these conclusions were reached and present other observations.

One pattern relates to the mosaic of the Web. Most consumers visit popular sites. However, many of their own favorite sites are more specialized. Approximately four in ten of the individuals' top three sites were coded in less frequently appearing categories, and did not appear among popular site measurement records. Web usage appears to have maintained individual preference and taste variety.

The other pattern involves simultaneous presence of concentration and exploration. The familiar notion of 20-80 is employed, yet from the consumer point of view. The results point out that particularly in the case of high frequency users, a small number of sites accounts for a significant percentage of the pages viewed by an individual. At the same time, consumers can visit a large number of different sites. The data on popular Web sites are in line, showing how page view records display stronger concentration than audience measurement records.

The third pattern concerns navigation patterns from site to site. Consumers appear to use various means of navigation in a rather balanced way: links from other sites, search queries, and bookmarks. However, the percentages of these various means vary by usage intensity and age.

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