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Growing statisitcs reinforce the commitment

At a San Francisco conference held by the International Quality and Productivity Center in December 1999, the president of the Brand Consultancy presented a workshop entitled "Turning Your Brand into a Cyber Brand." Back in 1999, companies were only just turning their brands into cyberbrands. The discussion focused on how in 1999 there were 92 million adult Internet users (that's approximately 40% of the U.S. population). Further statistics project that Web growth will continue at a torrid pace with 60+ percent of U.S. households online by the year 2003. The number of women Web surfers continues to increase steadily, and senior citizens, proving to be more active and vibrant than ever, are taking advantage of the Internet.

The steady growth of online consumer purchasing in most product categories is a driving force that convinces businesses they should make a firm commitment to Internet branding. Consumers are online doing everything from checking e-mails and bookmarking Web sites, to buying homes and making bank transactions. Even vacations can be planned online with e-tickets and an agenda to boot. And it does not stop here: Consumers are chatting more, getting financial information, and satisfying entertainment needs with audio and video clips. It is interesting to note the most commonly purchased items and requests for information relate to travel, PC hardware, books, apparel and accessories, and PC soft ware. E-commerce retail sales have skyrocketed, with over $30 billion in the year 2000. This figure alone gives us every indication that the Internet is attracting consumers who are becoming Web-savvy, spending more time online and ultimately sinking larger dollar amounts into product purchases that at one time would never have been considered an "Internet purchase." We see the change in the last five years of consumer behavior online as people have put more trust into the Inter-net to satisfy their needs for shopping, banking, stock trading, and entertainment. There is a direct correlation between the amount of information that is available online and the amount of time people are spending online. The global Internet numbers are growing too. According to an article entitled "Now for the Really Worldwide Web..." in Silicon Alley Report, because of the adoption of the Internet in other countries around the globe, a dot-com must think globally as well. The Internet is not sleeping in other countries. In fact, it is emerging in more places every year. Although the United States is approximately two years ahead of foreign nations, the numbers are steadily increasing. For instance, there were approximately 5.4 million Internet users in Russia in January 2000, a dramatic increase over an estimated 1.2 million at the end of 1998. In addition, the expansion of the Internet into Latin America is driven by the rapid increase of users in this region. The numbers in Latin America are projected to grow from 9 million in 1999 to approximately 38 million by 2003. Japan is also considered among the regions with high Internet penetration, with approximately 15 million Internet users. This is a wake-up call for global brands on the Internet. The Internet will open doors to new markets, and, therefore, must focus on global needs. As a matter of fact, the most frequently visited Web sites, according to Nielsen Net Ratings Japan, are Yahoo!, NEC, MSN, Sony Online, and GeoCities. Currently, U.S. retailers expanding into these foreign markets are addressing multiple currency and multiple language issues on their sites.

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