Today, more than half of the adults in the UK (51%) have access to the Internet, and 15.4 million (or 32%) of them are regular Internet users, according to the latest half-yearly UK Internet User Monitor™ survey from Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR).

For the three-week period between 25 October and
20 November 2000, more than 75,000 Internet users responded to an online poll of over 100 questions, to provide the most comprehensive indicator of the Internet’s development in the UK. Forrester weighted its online poll with traditional research using both face-to-face and
mail-out surveys of more than 6,000 people to achieve a truly representative sample of the UK population as a whole.

“Significantly, the male gender bias that characterised the UK Net has eroded to the extent that women now account for 46% of all British surfers,” commented William Reeve, group director of European Data Products for Forrester Research. “The Web continues to impact British buying behaviour, with 91% of those polled claiming to have investigated some kind of goods and services online. For instance, more than half (59%) of British surfers have visited a travel site, 49% have researched financial products and 33% have looked at job site offerings. But while British Net users are, on the whole, increasingly inclined to make online purchases (48% up from 38% in the second quarter of 2000), women are less likely to buy than men — of all UK adults, 39% of women have bought online against a comparable 61% of men.

“The UK Internet is no longer a hobby for a sophisticated, wealthy and educated male elite,” Reeve continued. “The UK Internet has become a truly mass information, communications and entertainment medium. Internet usage by blue-collar and manual workers remains the fastest growing group online. Of all UK C2Ds, 26% now use the Internet regularly – up from 15% in May. Further evidence of the shift to the mainstream of Internet use is the gradual upwards trend in mean age of Internet use from 33 in the second quarter of 1998 to 37 in the final quarter of 2000.”

Portals remain very popular with UK Internet users — 91% have visited a portal in the last two weeks. Yahoo! and Freeserve are the UK’s two most popular, with 45% and 35% of all UK Internet users respectively visiting them within two weeks of being polled.

“Internet use, originally driven by access at work, is growing amongst home users — 75% of respondents completed the online survey from home, against 12% at work,” Reeve concluded. “Around half of UK adults have a PC in the home and the proportion of users filling in the survey from home rather than work has grown from 50% in the second quarter of 1998 to 75% in the fourth quarter of 2000. Home use is driven by the desire to use email, free ISPs, and increasingly by free or reduced-price call packages. Additionally, as Internet use grows, the proportion of Internet users with the experience, confidence and sophistication to conduct advanced Internet behaviour — such as engaging in chat, registering at a site and online buying — increases.”

Survey Methodology

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 — over 130 including Yahoo!, Freeserve, BBC, Excite, Lycos and — ensures that the survey captures a representative proportion of total UK Web traffic during the three weeks.