Internet penetration in the UK has risen to 25% as the Web increasingly becomes a feature of home life, according to the latest UK Internet User Monitor™ from Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR). In May 2000 the Internet was used regularly (once a month or more) by a quarter of the UK population — up from 24% in November 1999, 21% in May 1999 and 15% in December 1998. This increase takes the total number of people in the UK with Internet access to 19 million, and the number of regular users up from 11.2 million to 12 million people over the age of 15 years in the last six months.
For the three-week period between April 25 and May 17, 2000, more than 65,000 Internet users responded to an online poll of over 100 questions to deliver the definitive and most comprehensive indicator of the Internet’s growth in the UK. Forrester combined its online poll with traditional offline polling of 2,000 people to show how representative the online sample is of the UK population as a whole.
“Whilst access at work was an early driver to growth, home access now accounts for 74% of Web use in the UK and is an important factor in the profile of UK Web users as they become a better reflection of the general population. This is up from 66% in November 1999,” comments William Reeve, group director of European Data Products at Forrester. “Subscription-free ISPs continue to drive adoption, and their profile and awareness is clearly visible in Web users’ behaviour. For instance, 56% of users now see their ISP’s chosen home page when they first go online, up from 47% in November 1999, 38% in May 1999 and 24% in December 1998.”
Internet usage by blue-collar and manual workers has almost doubled since May 1999, making this the fastest growing group online. Of all UK C2Ds, 15% now use the Internet regularly, catching up with the 39% of ABC1s online. However, ABC1 users still predominate, making up 74% of Internet users, compared with 24% from the C2D group, and young up-market men still heavily populate the UK Web. The typical British Internet user is male (61% of UK Web users), 35 years old, lives in London (22% of UK Web users) with an (average) annual income of #22,000 (net after tax), and living in a home that he is buying on a mortgage (45%). He is likely to have a degree or postgraduate qualification (33%) and to be classified to social grade ABC1 (73% of UK Web users, compared to 48% of the UK population as a whole).
The Web is impacting British buying behaviour too, with 89% of users polled having investigated some kind of goods and services online. Half of British users have looked into CDs, music, videos and DVDs online, but still relatively few (38%) have actually bought anything online. The most common item bought is a book — purchased by 44% of UK online shoppers.
“The more democratic Web is also making an impact on other types of offline behaviour,” Reeve continues. “For example, 39% of Internet users say they watch less TV since going online and 25% watch fewer videos. Yahoo! and Freeserve are the most popular two sites. Over a typical two-week period, Yahoo! is used by over half of UK users. Amazon is the best known online retailer, recording brand recall among 83% of UK Web users.”
Online polling allows the recruitment of a user sample that is large enough to be statistically robust. Pop-up technology used with the agreement of all sites involved ensures that this sample is random, not self-selecting. Also, the number of high- traffic UK sites involved — over 150 including Yahoo!, Freeserve, BBC, Excite, Lycos and FT.com — ensures that the survey captures a representative proportion of total UK Web traffic during the three weeks.