Today, almost 4% of online users in Europe have broadband access: This high-speed connection facilitates new types of online behavior, and today’s broadband users are highly active Net users, according to a new Technographics® report by Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR).

“Broadband consumer behavior is uniform across Europe, and users exhibit classic early-adopter demographics: They are male, young, and with a penchant for entertainment and buying consumer technology,” said Technographics Analyst Paul Jackson. “These high-end consumers have fewer financial commitments and are more prone to discretionary spending, so buying broadband would seem like a relatively small expense for them. In addition, entertainment-motivated individuals like these focus only on cool new content and communication, not business and educational content. Finally, they are naturally drawn to online shopping and banking.”

Three types of applications benefit most from broadband access: media sharing, entertainment information, and what Forrester terms “snacking” activities — short, frequent spells of online activity. File sharing sees the largest broadband effect, while the uptake of MP3 and software downloads and online games also increase significantly. Broadband’s always-on, call-charge-free model encourages “snacking” communication applications like SMS, chat, instant messaging, newsgroup participation, and free email. And broadband facilitates access to entertainment content like magazine and entertainment sites, movie information sites, and gambling due to the rich media experience made possible by broadband’s additional capacity.

However, while broadband access doesn’t contribute to an increase in the number of online shoppers, it does increase by 20% the likelihood of a consumer spending more than 80 euros per transaction. Goods from two of the top eight online retail categories are most attractive to broadband users — DVDs/videos and computer hardware. But retailers specializing in categories like clothing and travel are expecting to cash in on consumers with broadband — reasoning that their goods are best sold through a richer, more sophisticated consumer interface. However, our analysis shows that broadband access does not influence the purchase of these goods.

“Broadband access will increase the worries of large media groups fighting to protect their copyrights,” Jackson added. “In response, record companies will launch high-performance, easy-to-use, mass-market services to make buying and downloading music far easier than stealing it. As consumers become familiar with file sharing and downloading files, they will become aware of the security dangers of constant connections and open file sharing. Microsoft will capitalize on this by pushing Windows XP as a packaged solution to allay consumers’ security concerns. Finally, two camps of consumers will emerge: First, the DIY geeks who will source separate access providers, content aggregators, and streaming media sites; and second, the more “packaged” broadband users — who will get broadband as part of a bundle of television and communications services. Media companies like Vivendi Universal or AOL Time Warner will heavily support the latter as it allows for far tighter control of content.”

The data used for the report “Turning On Broadband Users,” was drawn from Forrester’s Consumer Technographics Q2 2001 Europe Benchmark Study, fielded in 13 European countries by means of consumer mail panels of 29,354 respondents. The 13 markets are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All data was weighted to demographically represent the countries’ populations.