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Top Internet countries in Central / Eastern Europe
Where to go next?

WebmasterWorld Senior Member heini us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 1:26 pm on Sep 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

When thinking of European countries, and excluding the UK, we almost inevitably end with discussing Germany, France, Italy, Spain. Those are the big players, both in total population and in seer number of internet users.

Also high on the list are Scandinavian countries, Netherlands and Belgium. Those countries are interesting because of their extraordinary high percentage of internet users.

All of those countries are fairly well explored by the worldwide web economy, all major players, like MS, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, TerraLycos etc are well established on those markets.

And while the growth of the online market in those countries still is much faster as in the US, the competitiveness grows along with it. Some online markets are already nearly impossible to target successfully for the small independent web marketeer.

So where to go next?

What are the top internet countries in Eastern and Central Europe?

Here's a preliminary list of candidates:

- Poland
- Czech Republic
- Slovakia
- Estonia
- Lithunia
- Latvia
- Bulgaria
- Russia

Some of those countries have an astonishingly high percentage of internet users, like Estonia, with rates comparable to Scandinavia.
Some have close ties with western European economies, some are candidates for EU membership..

What do you think - where will the next e-commerce and webmarketing hotspots be?



10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 8:57 pm on Sep 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

It really depends what you are offering and if you are trying to carve a niche or go mass market. Keep in mind that for the markets mentioned if you just offer in multiple languages you will greatly increase reach potential within currently available access channels in both western and eastern europe.

As far as next growth hotspots, it's not so much about geography but the way customers use online services which you need to know to figure out how to get your message out there. Europeans are much more mobile as compared to US desktop bound potatoes. I believe hot growth is really within the mobile realm predominantly within the localized needs serving however the infrastructures that marketers can leverage today are still inefficient. In the meantime what that means to you as a marketer is that to succeed in any of the markets mentioned, you need to localize your market messaging and your product/service needs to be localized if you want to gain considerable awareness and adoption. Your offer economic factors need to be inline with local competitive forces if any as well as cultural behavior preferences. (eg. you won't be able to sell many widgets or services to hungarians when similar localized versions are available within their neighborhood).

This is really common sense but it still amazes me how majority of the marketers throw money to gain reach with little consideration of the obvious.

Torben Lundsgaard

10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 10:22 pm on Sep 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Good point tjcali. It is exactly why most US companies can't get a break through in Europe.

However, I believe that most small european and especially are prepared to deal with east europe. In fact whe are already doing it. Since the wall came down west european countries have been developing these export markets.

In the small scandinavian countries we are used to dealing with export markets. Our own countries are simply to small for most companies so we need to export. We already have a lot of experience with the markets Heini listet, so localised products and marketing is already there. Now we just have use that experience when localising the internet marketing.

As you can se in the table below the internet penetration is quite good

Country - Inter. acc. - Total Population
Poland - 6.7M - 44.0M
Czech Rep - 2.2M - 12.0M
Slovakia - 0.7M - 5.7M
Russia - 11.5M - 167M

Eastern Europe will get very interesting if they join the EU but IMO these countries are already interesting.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 2:54 pm on Sep 25, 2002 (gmt 0)


really good topic. But i just don't understand how Bulgaria come into the picture....as far as i heard the internet penetration is not that big there.

Also info about in Hungary. Total population is 10 000 000 and internet penetration is about 10.7% (1 700 000).

So it's a potential but small market.



10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 10:07 pm on Nov 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

What about Romania and Hungary?


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 12:18 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

The Czech population is under 10 million and falling. Too many old people, not enough births. I think they need a few more of us foreign guys over there to look after the beautiful women...


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 1:17 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

I`ll bring this info. to some of my younger friends Backus ;)


WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 542 posted 7:55 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

The following is the distribution of unique visitors to a number of sites with identical content, oriented towards travel to and in Sweden, translated and also localized wherever possible.

English: 32,3%
Swedish: 28,6%
German: 7,9%
Italian: 5,7%
French: 3,9%
Spanish: 3,3%
Norwegian: 3,3%
Finnish: 3,2%
Danish; 2,9%
Dutch: 1,7%
Russian: 1,4%
Polish: 1,2%
Estonian: 1,0%
Hungarian: 0,7%
Lithuanian: 0,6%
Japanese: 0,5%
Portuguese: 0,3%
Latvian: 0,2%
Czech: 0,2%

So, the EU candidates and Russia together account for a total of 5,3% of the visitors. This is not bad when you consider that that is 5,3% out of 54.688 unique visitors during the last 5 weeks, which is as just about as off season as you can get. The sites are commercial, selling a service. I know this is rather special, but at least it should give a rough impression, answering heini's question.

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