Polish consumers lag in technology ownership and Internet usage, but they are likely to rapidly catch up with their Western European counterparts once incomes increase, according to new Consumer Technographics data from Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR). While overall online banking uptake and PC availability remain low, online Polish consumers already match online Southern Europeans in buying online. Poland even outperforms Spain, with 30% of online consumers having ever bought online, compared with just 29% in Spain. With almost 40 million consumers, the Polish market is the largest in Central Europe ¿ larger than those of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary combined. As the Polish economy is picking up steam again, driven by EU membership and a young, well-educated workforce, Poland represents a market opportunity that technology providers at large can not afford to ignore.

¿Some 60% of Polish consumers don’t have a computer available to them; when they do, however, almost all of them have a PC at home,¿ said Forrester Research head of quantitative research, Reineke Reitsma. ¿The main factor driving home PC ownership is income: When Polish consumers have the financial resources, they tend to buy a PC. More than 50% of consumers with an average monthly household income of more than 1650 zlotys (¿400) have a computer at home. This shows how quickly Poland could close the PC ownership gap with Western Europe when incomes increas.¿

The Forrester survey also shows that Polish consumers are far more likely to use their PCs and online connection for entertainment, rather than for work; in particular, ¿free¿ replacement activities, such as downloading movies, digital music, and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks show strong usage. They also love the possibilities of free communication via the Net: They are twice as likely as their Western European counterparts to use instant messaging and make phone calls using the Net, and more than five times as likely to send SMSes from a Web site.

Forrester has published four research reports focusing on Polish consumer data, covering Internet access, technology ownership and purchase intentions, mobile phones, and online banking. The research also highlights the challenges facing the Polish fixed-line telecommunications industry. According to Reitsma, ¿Fifty-five percent of Polish consumers use a mobile phone. Two groups of consumers are squeezing Polish telcos: 28% of mobile users are replacing most fixed-line use with their mobiles; and 24% of mobile users have no fixed line at home and only use their mobiles.¿

Only 5% Of Polish Online Consumers Bank Online Today

The Polish consumer finance market also lags that of Western Europe. Some 45% of Polish consumers hold some form of insurance and 44% have a current account, but overall financial product ownership lies well below Western European levels. Reitsma: ¿Affluent consumers dominate ownership in every product category: They earn high incomes and shop around for their financial products. When researching financial products, 25% of those with Net access turn to the Web for information, although only 5% of online consumers actually bank online today.¿

Forrester Adds Poland To Its Consumer Technographics Research

Forrester¿s Consumer Technographics research is the largest and longest-running technology research effort in the world, providing the most accurate view of the impact of emerging and established technologies on consumers. It provides unparalleled insight into how consumers evaluate, buy, and use technology. Since launching Consumer Technographics in 1997, Forrester has surveyed more than 2 million households and individuals in North American and Europe. In April-May 2005, Forrester surveyed 25,937 Europeans aged 16 years or older in eight markets: France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and, for the first time, Poland.

The research mentioned in this release is available to Forrester WholeView2 clients: