Internet engagement continues growing in “leaps and bounds” in Puerto Rico, reaching 57 percent of use among island residents 12 and older, representing a little more than 1.8 million users, according to the results of the 2013 “SME Digital & Mobile Behavioral Study,” commissioned and revealed by the Sales and Marketing Executives Association Thursday.
The study analyzed user behavior in digital media, Internet and mobile phones.
“Achieving a level of 57 percent represents a great achievement for Puerto Rico. Not only because it increased by 7 percent, which is the largest growth experienced, but because it occurs at a time when the economy is still very fragile after six years of a real reduction in its scope of 13 percentage points,” said Luis Rodríguez-Báez, vice president of Estudios Técnicos, which was responsible for conducting the study on Puerto Rico’s digital arena.
For the study, Estudios Técnicos polled 500 people 12 and older throughout Puerto Rico during the month of April. Participants were asked about their interaction with digital media such as the Internet and mobile, most visited pages, sites accessed, social media, online shopping, their favorite online activities, among other aspects. Ninety nine percent of them said they use broadband to access the web.
For the first time, the study showed that the ratio of people who connect to Internet through mobile devices is greater than the proportion that connects through their computers at a rate of 70.3 percent vs. 62.9 percent.
“This finding has major implications for various sectors as connectivity is available every where and all the time, as the user wishes. Therefore, media convergence increases exponentially,” said Rubén Rodríguez, vice president for McCann Digital in Puerto Rico, upon analyzing the study’s conclusions. “The Internet and other media acquire a mobile nature, different from the fixed conception it previously had. This creates great challenges for user measurement.”
The study, which was not shared in its entirety with the media, analyzed the following areas: usage by gender; most visited pages; access locations; social media; online shopping and usage of online discounts pages; activities carried out; functions used on their phone and tablet; use of applications on the phone and tablet; promotions and online advertising; attitudes and perceptions about the use of mobile, tablets and technology; and user profiles.
With regards to social media, the study confirms that nine in 10 people on the island who are Internet users have a presence on a social network with 91 percent, or 1.6 million people connected to Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter. Favorite online activities are: view photos, send messages to friends, comment on photos, share pictures and update information.The SME commissioned the study that polled local Internet users last month.
Most visited sites, activities
The study revealed that the top sites visited by Puerto Rican web surfers, through their computers, are: endi.com (10.5 percent); clasificadosonline.com (5.6 percent); primerahora.com (4.1 percent); bancopopular.com (2.0 percent); vocero.com (1.5 percent); doralbank.com (0.8 percent); noticel.com (0.8 percent) and aeepr.com (0.5 percent).
The list is pretty consistent with the pages visited through smartphones, with the addition of firstbank.com (0.6 percent); gobiernopr.com (0.6 percent); wapa.tv (0.6 percent) and 80grados.net (0.3 percent).
Meanwhile on their tablets, Puerto Ricans connect mostly with clasificadosonline.com (3.3 percent); bancopopular.com (1.7 percent); endi.com (1.7 percent); and primerahora.com (1.7 percent).
The study shows that Puerto Rico’s Internet users have been steadily warming up to the idea of online shopping, spending an average of $264. Thirty seven percent of the people polled said they bought something online in 2013, in comparison to 24 percent in 2011 and 30 percent in 2012.
For the most part, online shopping purchases focus on electronics (35 percent); books (30.1 percent); concert/movie tickets (26.2 percent); cars, auto parts (25.7 percent); and clothing and accessories (23 percent).
“E-commerce presents an opportunity to capitalize on the new generation of buyers,” the study concluded.Luis Rodríguez-Báez
Both Rodríguez-Baez and McCann’s Rodríguez agreed the island’s 57 percent Internet usage level, “dramatizes the opportunity for Puerto Rico community to join in a common crusade to make the island a leader in the field of technology.”
While the “human infrastructure” is already in place, to jump on the opportunities that arise from current usage, there must be:
- Tight integration of technology in public and private education;
- Stimulation and promotion of development of technological content that adds value to economic activities;
- Public policy to encourage and provide incentives for technological advancement as a spearhead for 21st century economic development, and;
- Concrete short and medium term plans for the key technological sectors.
Businesses would do well in paying close attention to the Internet usage trends defined in the study, which confirm that digital media are today’s “mass media” outlets and that companies must have speedy and optimized online platforms that work seamlessly on mobile devices, and desktop and tablet computers.