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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Study Reveals RuNet Demographics

More than 3.5 million people, or 40 percent of all Russian Internet users, ventured into cyberspace for the first time either this year or last, according to a new survey.

Conducted by European research agencies MASMI Research and Pro Active International, the survey sheds some demographic light on the late-blooming Russian Internet, or RuNet.

The project found, for example, that the average RuNet surfer spends more time in online forums and is better educated than the average European web user — 68 percent (75 percent of female users) have a college-level education, compared with 48 percent in Europe. Some 70 percent of all RuNet users are men, but that figure drops to 55 percent for the 23 to 34 age group.

The survey also found Russians who use the Internet, not surprisingly, have a higher income than non-surfers, with a monthly average per household of $790.

And Russians are more likely to post personal information online, with 52 percent routinely doing so compared to 47 percent in Europe.

Just 2.3 percent of Russians have an Internet connection at home, and only 6.3 percent have one at work.

But while only 40 percent of web users in Europe log on at work, more than 61 percent of Russians do, mainly for e-mail.

One-fifth of users surveyed were students, while the majority of users with jobs worked at companies with their own e-mail system and web site.

MASMI, which specializes in social-political surveys in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said the data was based on telephone and e-mail interviews and was conducted with the help of several portals such as Mail.ru, Port.ru and List.ru.

"The survey was the first in Russia to use online interviews," said Oksana Povarishchnikova, MASMI's director of Internet research.

Port.ru marketing director Yulia Sigunova said the survey helped identify the kind of people visiting her company's site so it could be fine-tuned to better suit clientele.

One crucial stat for retailers: more than half of those surveyed said they regularly click on ads.

But when compared to their European counterparts, RuNet users are much more reluctant to buy products online.

Less than one-third of those surveyed had made an online purchase, compared to 54 percent in Europe.

"There is no habit of buying online [in Russia]," said Povarishchnikova.

"But in a few years the level of online buying will be closer to that in Europe."

Russians are less active than Europeans when it comes to making purchases online because of the low penetration of credit cards in Russia, said Edward Hodgmen, vice president of MASMI Research Group.

As for other media, 30 percent of RuNet afficianados polled read newspapers daily, while 15 percent read magazines about current events once a week and 42 percent watch television no more than 10 hours a week.

The results of the next survey, expected by November, will include RuNet surfers from around the world, Povarishchnikova said.