E-Mail Accounts of Latin Americans

The Internet consists of a number of services: the World Wide Web, file transfer protocol, electronic mail, etc.  The total value of the Internet to the consumer is the worth of these individual services.  Each person has his/her individual priorities, by which the worths of the services are set.  Increasingly, electronic mail is assuming a more and more important role.

Like the telephone, electronic mail is a service with network externality.  This means that the value of the service increases as more people sign on.  Obviously, one would not want to be the only person that one has electronic mail, since there would be no one to exchange messages with.  When more and more of one's friends and business associates have electronic mail, it becomes more important to be connected too.  

For international businesses, electronic mail lowers communication costs, since an electronic message costs much less than an international telephone call.  Electronic mail is also machine independent, and can be picked up from virtually anywhere with an internet connection.  Electronic mail also has the advantage of permitting the receiver to screen the message and determine when to respond, if at all.

A characteristic of electronic mail is that it is cheap and universally available to internet users.  Even if one does not have an account with an Internet Service Provider, one can still own an account with a free email service (such as hotmail.com or yahoo.com).  For various reasons, it is sometimes convenient for a single individual to own multiple email accounts.  Quite often, an individual may have a business email account and a separate personal email account.  This division occurs because some companies do not look favorably upon the use of corporate email services for personal purposes.  An individual may also have multiple personal accounts to compartmentalize their personal lives.  Luckily, most email client programs can be programmed to automatically check multiple accounts. 

This leads to an interesting question: How may email account does the typical Latin American internet user has?   We will now refer to some survey data from TGI.net Latina study.  The relevant portion of this large study is the 3,932 email users in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico who have accessed the Internet in the past 90 days.  The chart below gives the frequency distribution of the number of email accounts that these people have.

About half of these people own more than one email account.  The average number of email accounts per user is over two.  For the e-marketer, it means that if large number of e-messages are sent, it is likely that the net number of people reach is likely to be very high since those messages should reach at least one of those accounts.  On the negative side, the appearance of the same message in multiple accounts is bound to increase the annoyance factor.

(posted by Roland Soong, 2/23/2001)

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