The evolution of online behaviours in the UK

With the internet being such a prominent resource in some people’s lives, it may be difficult to realise that internet behemoth, Google, is just only turning 20. It is quite extraordinary to see how quickly and vastly technology has progressed in such a short time, and with the internet literally at our fingertips through our phones, tablets and laptops, it feels like an age since the days of dial up internet.

To celebrate the birthday of Google, we look at the evolution of consumer’s behaviour when it comes to internet usage methods of connection using our TGI study data over the last 18 years. 

Back in the future... 

Back in 2000, our TGI study showed that 71% of the respondents had never used the internet (either at home or at work). The over 65 age group contributed 26% of the non-internet users coming from that group. The rest of the age groups were very even, ranging from 12% to 17%.

Fast forward 3 years to 2003 and the percentage of the population that were internet users jumped up from the 29% in 2000 to 57%, overtaking the non-user figure in just 3 years. At this point in time, less young people were in the non-internet group, accounting for just 8% of them. Again the 65+ age group were the biggest contributors, more so than in 2000, with 37%.

In the following years the internet had been made more accessible and it become apparent that it would be a big facilitator in consumers behaviours, thus TGI adapted and we were able to find out more about the internet user.

  • In 2008 75.5% of the population had used the internet in the last 12 months.
  • Internet users were either newcomers or had been using it for a long time, 44% accessed the internet for the first time longer than 5 years previously and 15% were within the last 6 months.
  • 92% of internet users had accessed the internet at home and 32% had accessed it at work (respondents could choose multiple locations if relevant).
  • Internet users were either heavy or light users, 28% of them had spent more than 30 hours a month on the internet but only 3% had spent 25-30 hours, whereas 18% had used it for less than 5 hours a month.
  • Just under 2% of users had accessed the internet through a digital TV and 15% had accessed via a mobile phone.

Internet has become the norm

Another 5 years in the future brings more technology and the internet has become the norm. In 2013, 86% of the GB population had accessed the internet in the last 12 months, and 80% of those who hadn’t were aged 55+. Questions regarding time spent were now asked by hours per week instead of per month which suggested a nearly even split across light (0-5 hours), medium (5-19 hours) and heavy users (20+ hours).

  • 40% of internet users were medium users, whereas heavy and light users accounted for 29% and 28% respectively.
  • In 2013 only 5% had accessed the internet on an internet enabled TV, but 50% had accessed it through a mobile compared to just 15% in 2008.

The present

Looking at the latest data in 2018 shows that 95% of the British population have accessed the internet in the last 12 months. This year’s data really showed how consumption has changed, more people were heavy users than medium or light with 40% of the population using the internet more than 20 hours in a week. 73% of users have accessed the internet via a mobile phone and 54% via a tablet as well as 85% accessing via a laptop, which has decreased from 2013 (89%) thanks to access to portable options whenever people want. TV is proving to be a strong contributor with 14% of users now accessing the internet via a TV. The internet provides consumers with a wide range of functionalities and uses, for example 70% of the population have used the internet for online shopping and 71% have used it for online banking.

In the last 18 years the rapid expansion of functionality, speed, accessibility and convenience of the internet has changed and even shaped consumers behaviours. The internet offers too may options to list and, with such a huge user base, is also a lucrative space for advertising and promotion to businesses to connect with consumers. With the rise of technology such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, along with further advancements making devices cheaper and more obtainable, we will surely see even more change in online behaviours in the future.

To read more on connected consumers and a view on the space by industry leaders, make sure to download our DIMENSION study here.

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