Published on December 2, 2010

A Nation of Communicators

The recent recession has given all of us cause to re-evaluate our marketing budgets and consider where cuts might be made. For those debating whether to trim down or abandon online and social media marketing activity, though, a new report produced by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) offers food for thought.

The report, published today, examines the availability, uptake and use of communications technologies and services in the UK and 16 other countries (including France, Italy, Spain and Japan) and aims to provide concrete information on the British communications sector as a basis for future government policy development. For the marketing-minded, however, it also provides substantial insights into the behaviour of communications consumers- including the much-coveted 18-24 market.

Young people in the UK, the report concludes, are among the earliest global adopters of smartphones and mobile internet technologies. More than half of Britons aged 18-24 routinely access the internet via devices other than a desktop PC, while around 45% of the same group are likely to use their mobile phones to visit social networking sites. 86% of 18-24s overall are identified as online social network users- suggesting that, for any organisation keen to market its goods or services, social media tools are a particularly effective means of initiating dialogue with young people, wherever they are.

The UK, the report observes, also spends more money online than any other European nation. UK-based internet users make more web purchases than users from neighbouring countries, paying an annual average of £1031 per user for online goods and services- a statistic which surely demonstrates the logic of organisations and corporate bodies investing at least a portion of their marketing budget in a functional, attractive and user-friendly web presence.

Most interestingly, the report also indicates a strong unwillingness on the part of UK residents to sacrifice internet and communications technology access, even amid the recession. British people of all ages were found to be reticent to cut back on communications (and particularly broadband) expenditure, even when cutbacks to other non-essential and luxury items were deemed necessary. Between 29-51% of those surveyed, for example, anticipated reductions in spending on holidays, while 39-56% predicted spending less on nights out over the next 12 months. Only 6-7% anticipated reducing their spending on broadband services- again suggesting consumer attachment to web-based services, and so the possibility of reaching individual consumers through online marketing means.

As the presence of this blog- and of our website and Twitter account- perhaps demonstrate, we at Stockdale Martin invest heavily in the development of a strong online profile, and in the communication technologies which facilitate this development. Given the findings of the Ofcom report, we can only encourage other organisations and businesses to do the same.

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