The Swedes and the internet 2014

An annual study of the Swedish people's internet habits

4. Online shopping

The last five years has seen more than eight in ten using the internet to shop. Over the entire population, this corresponds to three out of four Swedes. This is a very high figure compared to other countries in Europe and the world. Sweden is the highest in Europe along with the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway, but a little behind shopping online in the U.S. This applies if one counts those who shop via the internet per year. If one counts those who shop weekly or monthly, Sweden falls further down.

An important reason why so many shop over the internet is that the confidence in the payment system has become increasingly high. In the year 2000, 72 percent were nervous about credit card fraud. The numbers sank to 42 percent in 2007 and last year the numbers were down to 19 percent. The selection has also become larger and delivery times faster.

Viewed over a longer period of time, there have been major changes but the trend has leveled out and the number of those who shop online have, in the last year, stayed around the same level. This applies to both the number of those shopping online often as well as those who do it only sporadically. Here we can distinguish between mail order – where information, orders and purchases made via the net of goods that are then delivered as a package – and the buying of digital content that one can download home to one’s own computer or via “streaming” services. When it comes to digital content, there have been major changes over the past few years. More on this at the end of the chapter.

Diagram 4.1. Number of internet users (18+ years) who sometimes buy and pay for items or services via the internet. Show as table Download

Already four years ago, most people took advantage of the internet for the payment of bills, but gradually even more have started using these services. 90 percent of internet users log in to their internet bank at least once a month compared to 84 percent in 2011. 85 percent pay bills compared to 78 percent in 2011. Blocket has retained its popularity and there are just as many today as four years ago who use the internet to compare prices and buy/book tickets.

Diagram 4.2. Number of internet users (16+ years) who perform various activities related to e-commerce. Show as table Download

On the average, men shop online more often than women. This applies to both buying and selling, comparing prices, stocks and logging in to an internet bank. However, there are few differences when it comes to paying bills and buying/booking tickets.

Next: Information and facts

Digital purchasing

A major problem in the past was the difficulty to charge for digital content. In the beginning, the same business model was used as for goods sold at ordinary shops, but the consumers did not accept this. Now that the internet’s potential for diversity (unlimited storage), lower prices (less expenses), and greater availability (directly via your PC or mobile phone) are being utilized, purchases of digital content have increased. Apps that open when you press them in the mobile phone or tablet and allow access to specific programs or content have become very popular. The cost for users is often low or zero while the number of users can be very large.

Apps dominated digital purchasing in 2012. This applied to all age groups except the two youngest. Among the older youth (16-25) purchases of music came first and among the youngest (12-15) purchases of games came before music and apps. (Soi 2012).

Besides the rising popularity of apps, streaming services offering music, video and film have had a greater impact. They are complementary to advertising-supported free services.

According to the music industry figures, digital purchases of music passed the physical sales in 2011. It is a trend towards an increasing share of digital sales, which continues. Also through digital sales, incomes from streaming music have taken more and more space. Already in 2010, the sales of streaming music surpassed the sales of downloaded music.


Diagram 4.3. Number of internet users in different age groups who subscribed in 2014 to music via the internet (no data for 2013). Show as table Download

Many more pay for music on the internet

There are thus more who pay to listen to music on the internet. Here, the development has moved quickly from 15 percent in 2011 to 38 percent of internet users in 2014. The rise has been especially among the young – a three-fold increase in four years, from 18 to 52 percent among the youngest (12-15) and from 22 to 61 percent among the slightly older (16-25).

In 2011, listeners of Spotify were already spreading: 50 percent listened, 20 percent of them daily. In 2014, the corresponding numbers are: 58 percent listening, 28 percent daily.

Diagram 4.4. Number of internet users in different ages who sometimes listen to Spotify and number who pay for music. Show as table Download

There are therefore not many more who listen to Spotify today compared with four years ago. However, there are many more who pay to listen. The number of those who pay has risen from 15 percent to 38 percent. The means that three out of four (74%) of listeners are paying today compared to 39 percent in 2011.

Diagram 4.5. Number of internet users (12+ years) who subscribe to music and number who listens to Spotify. Show as table Download


Diagram 4.6. Number of internet users (12+ years) who subscribe to video/film/TV and the number who watches on YouTube. Show as table Download

Many more pay for video/film/TV on the internet

There are also many more who pay to watch film, video and TV via the internet. This development came later than for music and has not had the same spread. Commercial-financed YouTube is dominant, visited by 82 percent of internet users (18% daily). At the same time, 14 percent of internet users subscribe to see video/film/TV. In the age group of 12 to 35, around 25 percent subscribe while the percentage is lower (18%) among those between the ages of 36-45.


Who is paying?

Who utilizes paying services on the internet? It is a wide group of ages ranging from 12 to 45, which are also those who listen the most to digital music. Previously, it was mainly 16-35 year olds who subscribed the most. Now even half of the youngest (12-15) and half of the slightly older (36-45) pay for music and a quarter of them subscribe to video/film/TV. This even applies to the youngest between the ages of 12 to 15.


Does education matter?

Among the young (16–45), education has no effect on listening and viewing as almost all people listen to streaming music and watch videos. However, it is much more common for the older people with lower education (46-65) to listen to Spotify and subscribe to music. On the other hand, it is more common for well-educated people aged 16 to 65 with university studies to pay for video/film/TV compared to low educated people who have not graduated.


Diagram 4.7. Number of the population who at some time during the year has shared files. Show as table Download

File sharing decreases among the young

The possibility to download files with music or video and then share these files with others has been on the internet since 2000 (Findahl & Selg, 2005; Findahl, 2006). Today there are many such services on the internet. After file sharing rose until 2008, it has been quite stable at around 20 percent. This means that one in every five Swedes at some time share files. During the years of 2011 to 2013, the number of those sharing files was at 21 percent. Now, during the past year, we can see a decrease. This is reflected above all in the youngest age group. In the older age groups, there are also decreases, but conditions there are basically unchanged.

At the same time as file sharing is decreasing among the young, we have seen that many of them have started to pay and subscribe to streaming music and to an extent also for film/video/TV. 52 percent in the ages of 12-15 subscribe to music today and 25 percent subscribe to video/film/TV.

File sharing has always primarily been something that mostly men have indulged in, and this continues. It was always considered technically difficult. 29 percent of men share files sometimes compared to just 8 percent of women.


Diagram 4.8 The number of those who use file sharing services in different ages in 2013 and 2014. Show as table Download