45% growth in number of active internet users in rural India since 2019: study

There was a 45% growth in “active Internet users” in since 2019, according to research by Nielsen, a global audience measurement, data and analytics company.

The Internet Bharat 2.0 report indicates that working women increased by 61% since 2019. The report indicates that India has 646 million active aged 2 and over from December 2021.

has 352 million Internet users, nearly 20% more than the urban population. The study also revealed that nearly 60% of the rural population still does not actively use the Internet, paving the way for future growth. Urban India, on the other hand, recorded a penetration growth of 59% with 294 million assets. .

Dolly Jha, Managing Director of Nielsen India, said there was the availability of budget smartphones and affordable mobile data along with the Indian government’s efforts to bolster the existing digital infrastructure. These are driven by compelling initiatives such as Digital India and fueled by one of the cheapest data prices in the world enabled by telecom companies.

“These have led to improved and faster levels of internet adoption across the country,” Jha said, in an interview. “I expect that with the launch of 5G somewhere this year, certain categories are really going to see a significant upsurge. The government has a very aggressive digital agenda in terms of the number of Gram Panchayats that need to be submitted Internet adoption because all the initiatives the government has put in place (including) direct consumer benefits really depend on Internet connectivity.

According to the study, the number of active Internet users is 592 million aged 12 and over. Compared to 2019, the base of Internet users active for 12 years and over has recorded an impressive growth of around 37%.

Rural user growth at 45% continues to outpace urban user growth at 28% compared to 2019. Female user growth over the past 2 years is 61% compared to male users who grew by 24%. . Furthermore, 1 in 3 female internet users in rural India are actively using the internet.

“The study shows a surge in the number of active female internet users in rural India, coupled with rural India’s willingness to adopt the technology at a faster rate,” Jha said.

The study revealed that nearly 90% of them access the Internet daily. Users aged 50 and over are also active and are not left out with 81% accessing it daily. Mobile phones have remained the key device for all Internet uses in all sectors.

Other trending activities on the Internet (for 12+ years) include watching videos. While social media or chatting remains the top activity on the internet across India with 503 million active internet users, watching videos and listening to music online are among the top 5 activities performed on the internet. Nearly 440 million users watch videos on the Internet, 54% of which come from . The male-to-female split among active internet users is 60:40.

Additionally, despite 56% of active internet users being from rural India, online shopping remains largely dominated by its urban counterpart. 47% of online shoppers come from NCCS A (New Consumer Classification System – affluent users). The NCCS is used to classify households in India based on two variables – the education of the main earner and the number of durable consumer goods in the family.

“E-commerce has undergone a significant evolution. There is social trading and fast trading,” Jha said. “There will be more consumers interested in it. I believe that social commerce is really going to become big as well as e-commerce. Then there are other areas such as games, where we are going to see massive expansion.

The other trend is related to online banking and digital payments. The study revealed that users of online banking and digital payments were identified as urban and affluent users (from NCCS A) with 2/3 of users falling within the age bracket of 20-39. While usage is higher in urban areas, 46% of its users come from rural India. This activity is more common among men because the ratio of men to women is 69:31.

“There was a significant increase in digital payments, when they were adopted during Covid,” Jha said. “But this trend is here to stay as we expect more people to fall for digital payments.”

The Bharat 2.0 study is designed to establish the internet penetration and user profile for the country. The methodology is comprised of a face-to-face systematic stratified random survey in all states and cities/towns. This was carried out from September 2021 to December 2021 covering approximately 110,000 household members in approximately 27,900 households.

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