With nearly 140 million internet users as of 2016, Brazil is the largest internet market in Latin America and the fourth largest internet market in the world in number of internet users. Projections show internet penetration rate is forecast to grow to about 61 percent in 2021, up from about 56.8 percent in 2016. Brazil is considered partly free in the Freedom House Index with 32 index points, ranking fourth in the Americas, only behind Canada, the U.S. and Argentina. Overall, Brazilians are heavy internet users. Monthly internet usage in Brazil amounted to 25.7 hours per user in 2016; in comparison, the Latin American average stood at 18.6 hours. Furthermore, 90 percent of Brazilian internet users accessed the internet every day for personal reasons.
Mobile internet and especially smartphone internet have proven themselves as a viable alternative to traditional fixed-line online connections in Brazil. In 2016, there were 81.4 million mobile phone internet users in Brazil, which accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Brazilian population. By 2021, these figures are forecast to increase to 112.7 million and 51.8 percent respectively. Checking and sending emails is the most popular mobile activity of mobile phone owners in Brazil. The leading mobile app in the country is the instant messenger WhatsApp with a 93 percent reach. Facebook ranked second with a 79 percent reach, followed by YouTube and Instagram.
Social media is indeed a popular online activity in Brazil. There were nearly 100 million social network users in the country as of 2016. This figure is forecast to increase to about 114 million by 2021. Facebook is the leading social network in the country. The social network's penetration rate in Brazil is expected to jump from about 40.8 percent in 2016 to nearly 50 percent by 2021. Facebook is particularly popular among Brazilians aged between 20 to 29 years, as this group age accounts for 36 percent of the user base in the country. Other leading social networks in Brazil include WhatsApp – about 29 percent of the population in the country uses WhatsApp – Facebook Messenger, Google Plus and Instagram.
Retail e-commerce sales revenue in Brazil is forecast to add up to 29 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, up from around 16.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. The number of digital buyers in Brazil is also expected to grow from about 60.5 million in 2016 to nearly 95 million by 2021. As of 2016, the most popular retail e-commerce category in Brazil in terms of reach is household appliances. About 60 percent of internet users in Brazil had purchased household appliances online. Clothes, consumer electronics, and beauty products are also popular categories. In regards to retailers, Mercado Livre is the leading online retailers in the country.
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