Did you know that Chile was Facebook’s fourth market in terms of reach? This is one of the findings revealed by comScore, which studied the use of Internet in Chile during the month of May 2011. Here is what you need to know about this growing market:

  • 7.3 million: this is the number Chileans over the age of 15 who accessed the Internet from home or from work during May 2011.
  • This means the Internet reach is quite high for a Latin American country: Chile only has 17 million inhabitants.
  • The moderate growth of Internet access (3% year on year) reflects the fact that Chile, just as Argentina, is a more mature market than countries such as Brazil and Mexico.
  • However, these Internet users spent an average of 25.3 hours online per month only, less than in other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia or Peru.
  • This somewhat low average number masks discrepancies: younger users dominate Internet use in the country: the 15-24 years old spent 32.7 hours online, above the Latin American average and well above the global one.
  • Probably as a consequence, the most popular category is social networking: a whopping 93% of Chilean Internet users access social networks. They also stay a long time on these sites: 8.2 hours, 30% of the total average time spent online. This is well above the global average (76% reach and 5.7 hours.) It’s also higher than the regional average: the popularity of social networking is a Latin American trend, but it’s even stronger in Chile.
  • As in many countries, Facebook is the most popular social network in Chile: 90,7% access Facebook. This makes Chile Facebook’s fourth market in terms of reach (after the Philippines, Turkey and Israel). Chile is also Twitter’s 16th most important market by reach.
  • Another very popular Internet use in Chile is instant messaging: 65% use IM, almost double the global average of 35%. The same trend is observed across the region.
  • Some categories, such as e-commerce, have a much lower penetration in Chile than in the rest of the world, or even the region. Only 59% Internet users access retail sites.
  • This represents a market opportunity, but also a challenge, especially for local players. The proportion of users who consider their local retail websites to be of high quality is lower in Chile than in many Latin American countries.
  • In contrast, 76% Argentines declare they’d prefer to shop on local sites than on international sites – which is likely related to the popularity of MercadoLibre, one of the main Internet success stories from Argentina.
  • There is also space for growth in Travel and Sports: astonishingly, sports-related websites are less successful in Chile than worldwide.

As we already pointed when we reported comScore’s figures for Argentina and Peru, there is one big caveat to these numbers: they don’t include Internet access from mobile devices or cybercafés. Neither do they include Internet users below the age of 15, leaving many teenagers out of the picture.

Still, the portrait they paint looks fairly accurate: young and social with a good reach, the Internet still has plenty of space for growth in Chile.

Are you surprised by any of these numbers?

Update: comScore’s slides can be downloaded here.