NEW YORK, June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Portfolio.com, the national business news site for small and mid-sized business (SMB) executives, today revealed results from a study conducted by American City Business Journals (ACBJ) illustrating how SMB owners are using the Internet to improve their businesses. SMB owners use a large assortment of Internet applications for business purposes with the leading applications being travel planning, researching and buying business products and services, accessing business news, and keeping in touch with friends and colleagues.
"For this study, we surveyed 1762 owners, CEOs and presidents of businesses with five to 499 employees. Using multivariate statistics, five distinct segments of businesses owners have been identified, who exhibit unique Internet usage behaviors for different business purposes," said Godfrey Phillips, Vice President for Research at ACBJ. "We call the five segments transactors, investors, interactors, commentators and viewers. Through our study, we found that the interactors, investors and transactors are the three segments providing the greatest opportunity for companies pursuing the strengths of the Internet."
Interactors are the most heavily engaged with the Internet, spending 2.5 hours per week, the highest amount of time of all the segments. This group represents a fairly small group of business owners (15 percent of the survey population, accounting for 24 percent of sales) who are mostly well-educated men and tend to run larger companies compared to any other SMB segment. By being highly engaged with technology, they have armed their employees with wireless devices, and are more inclined to make purchases over the Internet.
Interactors use the Internet for a wide variety of activities including reading general and business news, researching and purchasing products and services, staying connected with colleagues and collecting information about competitors. Additionally, of all the groups, they are most likely to be frequent travelers.
Investors represent 22 percent of SMB owners and 23 percent of sales. They show moderate engagement with the Internet and are most inclined to use it to access general and business news and manage their investment accounts, but are less active in the social networks realm.
These owners have the highest net worth and the largest investment portfolios of all segments.
Demographically, the Investors group consists primarily of men who are on average 53.6 years old, have completed degrees in higher education and the highest household incomes. Similar to Interactors, they are highly involved with the local community.
Transactors are the highest segment of Internet sellers and sell the most products and services over the Internet - 50 percent versus 41 percent for all other SMB owners. They are less inclined to use the Internet for investing, banking and making travel plans.
In most cases, transactors run well established companies and have a tendency to be found in urban and/or suburban areas that skew toward the Northeast. Accounting for 25 percent of business owners and 29 percent of sales, transactors are the most optimistic when it comes to believing that the economy has begun to improve.
*Commentators and Viewers
The last two segments, Commentators and Viewers, differ from the other three in a significant way – they account for the least percentage of sales. Viewers make up 21 percent of the survey population, yet account for only 10 percent of sales. Seventeen percent of business owners are classified as commentators, but this segment accounts for 14 percent of sales.
Viewers – those who make the most of the web's multimedia offerings by consuming more music, entertainment news, and sports – own the smallest companies, with an average of 21 employees and work the fewest hours of 51.7 hours per week. They also spend the fewest hours on the Internet – 2.1 hours per week – and when using the Internet, they spend their hours on blogs, YouTube and HDTV.
Commentators work the longest hours, 55.2 hours per week, and they represent a higher percentage of women- and minority owned businesses than the other segment. Commentators, who spend the most time working on their own blogs or posting responses to others, work out of the office the most but use the Internet the least to buy or sell businesses and services.
Portfolio.com began disclosing exclusive results and trends from various studies to the public for the first time this year, starting with its annual "SMB Insights: The Business of Brands" in March. Just last month, Portfolio.com revealed the shifting investment trends among the one-third of these business owners who rank among the "mass affluent."
Portfolio.com is the national business news site for small and mid-sized business executives. Comprising original, in-depth reporting, thought-provoking insights, colorful features, exclusive analysis of custom research, and an intelligent business-news filtering tool, Portfolio.com is the first national business media outlet dedicated solely to delivering actionable news and information to this coveted audience. Portfolio.com relaunched in December 2009 as the information destination for business executives, insiders and strategists within the growing and profitable American City Business Journals.
About American City Business Journals
American City Business Journals engages 13.5 million decision makers each month through the company's 40 newsweeklies, 42 Web sites, digital newsletters and more than 400 local events across the country. It is the largest publisher of business-to-business information in the United States. More than 4 million readers each week engage with exclusive, in-depth coverage of local business communities; some 9 million unique monthly users engage with the company's digital content; more than 11 million e-newsletters are delivered each month via email; and the company sees more than 1 million mobile page views each month. American City is a unit of Advance Publications Inc., which also operates Condé Nast Magazines, Parade magazine, Fairchild Publications, the Golf Digest companies, Newhouse Newspapers and cable television interests.