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

There has been a 45 percent growth in ‘active the users in since 2019, according to a study by Nielsen, a global audience measurement, data and analytics company.

The Bharath 2.0 report said active woman users grew 61 percent since 2019. Report says India has 646 million active from 2 years and up to December 2021.

it has 352 million Internet users, almost 20 percent more than the city. The study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of the rural population is still not actively using the Internet, paving the way for further growth. Urban India, on the other hand, has recorded a penetration growth of 59 percent with 294 million active. .

Dolly Jha, CEO of Nielsen India, said the availability of cheap smartphones and affordable mobile data exists alongside the efforts of the Indian government to strengthen the existing digital infrastructure. These are through compelling initiatives like Digital India and are powered by some of the cheapest data pricing in the world enabled by telcos.

“This has led to improved and faster levels of Internet adoption across the country,” Jha said in an interview. “I would hope that with 5G launching somewhere this year, there are certain categories that are really going to see a significant increase. The government has a very aggressive digital agenda in terms of the number of Gram Panchayats that need to be included in the scope of internet adoption. Because all the initiatives that the government has built (including) the direct benefit to the consumer really depend on Internet connectivity.”

According to the study, the number of active Internet users is 592 million who are 12 years old or older. Compared to 2019, the active Internet user base for 12 years or more has shown an impressive growth of around 37 percent.

The growth of rural users at 45 percent continues to dwarf the growth of urban users at 28 percent during 2019. The growth of female users in the last 2 years is an astonishing 61 percent compared to male users who grew by 24 percent. . Furthermore, 1 in 3 female Internet users in rural India actively use the Internet.


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

The study revealed that nearly 90 percent access the Internet on a daily basis. Users aged 50 and over are also active and not far behind with 81 percent accessing daily. Mobile phones remain the key device for all Internet use in all sectors.

Other popular Internet activities (for ages 12 and up) include watching videos. While social networking or chatting is still the top internet activity in India with 503 million active internet users, watching videos and listening to music online are among the top 5 internet activities. About 440 million users watch videos on the Internet, of which 54 percent are from . The male to female split among active Internet users is 60:40.

Furthermore, despite the fact that 56 per cent of active Internet users are from rural India, online shopping is still heavily dominated by its urban counterpart. 47 percent of online shoppers are from NCCS A (New Consumer Classification System – wealthy users). NCCS is used to classify households in India based on two variables: the education of the main earner and the amount of consumer durables in the family.

“Electronic commerce has undergone a significant evolution. There is social commerce and fast commerce,” said Jha. “There are going to be more consumers who realize this. I think social commerce is really going to be as big as e-commerce. Then there are other areas, like gaming, where we’re 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 have been identified as urban and affluent users (from NCCS A) with 2/3 of the users belonging to the age range of 20 to 39 years. While usage is higher in urban areas, 46 percent of its users are from rural India. This activity is more common among men as the split between men and women is 69:31.

“There was a significant increase in digital payments, when it was adopted during Covid,” said Jha. “But that trend is here to stay, as we expect more people to enter the digital payments arena.”

The Bharat 2.0 study is designed to establish the Internet penetration and user profile of the country. The methodology consists of face-to-face systematic stratified random surveys in all states and cities/towns. This ran from September 2021 to December 2021 and covered around 110,000 household members in around 27,900 households.

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