Digital Anatomy of the Indian Female Internet User: Verizon Media Study
As Internet usage becomes more inclusive and gender-balanced in India, the internet is fast emerging as an ‘empowering force’ for Indian women online. A new Verizon Media study, which surveyed the habits of women internet users across India, has found that education, career development, women’s empowerment, health and fitness are key areas of interest for online women users in India.
The survey, ‘Spotlight on online habits of young Indian women’ was conducted by Nielsen for Verizon Media, which is home to internet brands like Yahoo, Yahoo Cricket, MAKERS, HuffPost India and AOL. Respondents in the survey, conducted in 12 cities across India in July 2019, included college students, young working women and women mentors between 18-35 years of age.
Insights from the survey reveal that Indian women are honing their skills to get ahead professionally every time they go online. 44% of users across Tier 1 cities access online content only in English to improve their soft skills and become ‘job ready’. This focus is sharper among younger women between the age group of 18-23 years. Across locations, younger women were found to access more content related to education, career growth and skill development, while older women between 29-35 years of age accessed more online video content related to personal well-being.
Verizon Media recently launched online women’s platform MAKERS India, aimed at the country’s growing audience of women online. MAKERS India is creating new opportunities online and on the ground for women to come together as a community, shaping a narrative that encourages more women to join the workforce.
“As this survey showed us, the internet is empowering a new breed of Indian women who are coming online and preparing to take their place in the workforce. The right platform and support as a community will enable greater inclusion, boosting participation of Indian women at the workplace,” said Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India, Verizon Media.
According to a recent study by IAMAI, women make up a sizeable audience in India’s rapidly growing internet user base, comprising 40% of the internet users in India. But beyond greater representation, women have an active presence online too. The study found that 96% of the women who were surveyed across age groups and locations, use the internet daily.
Not surprisingly, given the popularity of video and OTT content in the country, there is a clear preference towards watching videos over reading content online. More than 2/3rd of women surveyed had watched videos related to career development or social causes or personal well-being in the last one month.
Also, in line with the larger trend, smartphones are the device of choice for women users in India, with 60% of women accessing the Internet only on their smartphones. This number spikes to over 75% of women in Tier 1 cities. According to the study, women in India spend an average time of 145 minutes on their smartphones, every day. Interestingly, women in Tier 1 cities spend about 25 minutes more on the internet, compared to women in metros.
Top insights on usage patterns and trends from the survey:
- A nod to India’s language diversity, of the total women surveyed, ~80% of women users access online content in Indic languages (English + local language-Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali). Only 1/5th of the women users access online content, only in English
- Women users spend time online between 3 pm and 9 pm - a signal for brands on when to reach and engage with women audiences
- Women are not just building professional skills but prioritizing their personal well-being as well. Health and fitness are priority areas. Women across India, including metros and smaller towns, are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of fitness and access fitness-related information on the internet for an average of 10 days in a month. The health and fitness category are especially important for women in the 35+ age group
- ~70% women share videos/articles online when they like what they are reading or watching. The majority share videos or articles on social media and messaging apps. The preference for ‘average video duration’ was less than five minutes for each video
- The propensity to subscribe to various online platforms like social media, OTT etc. is the highest in metros as ~60% of the surveyed respondents followed by Tier 2 towns at ~46%
- ~40% of surveyed women fear irrelevant comments, being trolled and followed
- Creating awareness, educating and helping others were among the top reasons cited for creating content both offline and online
- Environmental conservation and child abuse related content were rated as high affinity content apart from education, women empowerment and career development