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Social Networking Across the Age Gap - UK - February 2009

Social networking has now been established in the UK for over eight years, with the first popular site, Friends Reunited, launching in July 2000. However, whilst Friends Reunited is still with us today, the market for social networking has changed from being something predominantly used by youth.

This happened with the rise of social networks like MySpace and Facebook, the latter of which now leads in terms of UK market share. These newspaper headline-stealing sites brought social networking to the masses, and are now used by groups of every different age.

This report aims to look at how social networking has changed, in particular:

  • How older consumers use social networking sites in relation to younger generations

  • In a saturated social networking market, are older internet users the next target for growth?

  • Teens aren’t buying through social networks – can older (wealthier) users be a salvation?

  • The impact of the credit crunch on boosting social networking usage (eg for job prospects)

  • Whether the young and old can co-exist on the same popular platforms

  • The popularity of specific platforms set up for older internet users eg SagaZone and FinerDay

  • The long-term effects of an ageing social networking population on the likes of Facebook

  • Potential benefits social networks can bring to older internet users

  • How age impacts on the number of ‘friends’ users have online as well as the differences between those that have a lot of friends and those with only a few.

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Definition
        • Abbreviations
        • Future Opportunities

          • The Language Barrier
            • Social networks profit pressure
              • Control over user information
              • Market in Brief

                  • Impact of UK recession – Negative and positive aspects
                    • Growth now being driven by older users
                      • General social networking versus niche players
                        • Social networking usage trends
                          • New entrants: The emperors in new clothes
                            • A fluid, complex and fiercely competitive market
                            • Internal Market Environment

                              • Key points
                                • UK in context
                                  • Figure 1: Percentage of adult internet users (18+ years) using social networks, Nov 2008
                                • Reports of social networking in decline have been premature
                                  • Figure 2: Social networking usage in the last three months, by gender, April 2008-January 2009
                                • Continued growth and a balance of the sexes
                                  • Growth in older users
                                    • Figure 3: Usage of social networks, by age, April 2008-January 2009
                                  • Networking for business and jobs in the recession
                                    • Figure 4: Social networking usage in the last three months, by socio-economic group and working status, April 2008-January 2009
                                  • Testing times boosting demand for networks
                                    • Figure 5: Effect of the current economic situation on web browsing habits, October 2008
                                • Broader Market Environment

                                  • Key points
                                    • Older users more connected than ever
                                      • Figure 6: British internet penetration at home/work/place of study or elsewhere, by gender, age and socio-economic group, January 2003-09
                                    • Some 80% of surfers now using a broadband connection
                                      • Figure 7: UK broadband penetration, 2004-08
                                    • Lower PDI
                                      • Figure 8: Trends in personal disposable income and consumer expenditure, 2003-13
                                    • Rising number of one-person households
                                      • Figure 9: UK household sizes, 2003-13
                                    • An ageing population
                                      • Figure 10: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, by gender, 2003-13
                                  • Competitive Context

                                    • Key points
                                      • Social networks struggle to compete for ad spend
                                        • Figure 11: US online social network advertsising spending, 2008-13
                                      • Social networks aren’t the only place for converged entertainment
                                      • Who’s Innovating?

                                          • Google launches Latitude
                                            • OpenSocial link up with MySpace
                                              • Branded and tailor-made networks – FreshNetworks and Ning
                                                • Barrack Obama’s social innovation
                                                  • The Vatican harnessing collective will
                                                    • Yahoo! Creating social connections through the email platform
                                                      • Facebook and Salesforce.com launch Force – bringing business developers into the social world
                                                      • Market Share

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Engaging users assumes priority over market share or market size
                                                            • Figure 12: Top ten social networks in the UK, June 2007-08
                                                          • Facebook takes the UK crown
                                                            • Figure 13: Top ten social networking and forum websites, December 2008
                                                          • Time spent is a more important measure
                                                            • Figure 14: Websites/applications with greatest increase in total UK minutes, May 2007-May 2008
                                                          • How do social networks compete with other web sectors?
                                                            • Figure 15: Leading websites/applications by average total monthly UK minutes, June 2007-May 2008
                                                          • Niche network explosion
                                                          • Companies and Products

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • Facebook
                                                                • Bebo
                                                                  • MySpace
                                                                    • LinkedIn
                                                                      • Friends Reunited
                                                                        • Faceparty
                                                                        • Brand Communication and Promotion

                                                                          • Key points
                                                                            • Most popular not the highest advertising spenders
                                                                              • Figure 16: Advertising expenditure on social networking sites, 2006-08
                                                                            • Facebook and MySpace
                                                                              • Google Latitude
                                                                                • Engaging with applications
                                                                                • Where are Social Networks Used?

                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                    • Majority of social networking still in the home
                                                                                      • Figure 17: Places where internet users go onto social network sites, March-December 2008
                                                                                    • Accessing at work in the downturn
                                                                                    • Reasons for Using a Social Network

                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                        • Connecting with people you know…
                                                                                          • Figure 18: Reasons for using a social network, December 2008
                                                                                        • …and not with people you don’t
                                                                                          • Look but don’t poke
                                                                                            • Making use of dead time
                                                                                            • How Social Networking has Affected Other Leisure Habits

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • Low impact on other habits
                                                                                                  • Figure 19: other activities that have reduced as a result of using social networks more, December 2008
                                                                                                • The devil is in the detail: Online social networks have not yet delivered a universal one-stop umbrella service
                                                                                                  • Online social networks are convenient and save time for the busy user
                                                                                                    • Traditional media is not dead
                                                                                                      • Radio GaGa – Radio, someone still loves you!
                                                                                                      • General Attitudes towards Social Networking

                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                          • Young and on guard to strangers
                                                                                                            • Figure 20: General attitudes towards social networking, December 2008
                                                                                                          • What of the prospects for advertising?
                                                                                                            • Enthusiasm withers for a quarter of respondents
                                                                                                            • Number of Friends Social Networkers Have

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                • Online social networking = True social networking
                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Number of friends social networkers have, December 2008
                                                                                                                • Women and men are equal
                                                                                                                  • General networking trends
                                                                                                                    • Uber-networkers are young users
                                                                                                                    • Usage of Social Networking Sites

                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                        • Facebook’s dominance of the UK market is underlined
                                                                                                                          • Figure 22: Popular social networking site usage, December 2008
                                                                                                                        • Facebook users
                                                                                                                          • Can MySpace fight back?
                                                                                                                            • Can anyone challenge Facebook’s dominance?
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Internal Market Environment

                                                                                                                                • Figure 23: Social networking usage in the last three months, by gender, age, socio-economic group, region and working status, April 2008 to January 2009
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Where are Social Networks Used?

                                                                                                                                • Figure 24: Places where internet users go onto social network sites, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Reasons for Using a Social Network

                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Most popular reasons for using a social network, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Next most popular reasons for using a social network, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Other reasons for using a social network, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – How Social Networking Has Affected Other Leisure Habits

                                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Other activities that have reduced as a result of using social networks more, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 29: Other activities that have reduced as a result of using social networks more, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 30: Other activities that have reduced as a result of using social networks more, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – General Attitudes towards Social Networking

                                                                                                                                • Figure 31: Most popular general attitudes towards social networking, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 32: General attitudes towards social networking, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Number of Friends Social Networkers Have

                                                                                                                                • Figure 33: Number of friends social networkers have (0-100), by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 34: Number of friends social networkers have (100+), by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Usage of Social Networking Sites

                                                                                                                                • Figure 35: Regular users of leading social networking sites, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 36: Differences in usage between most popular leading social networking sites, by detailed demographics, December 2008
                                                                                                                                • Figure 37: Differences in usage between next most popular leading social networking sites, by detailed demographics, December 2008

                                                                                                                            Companies Covered

                                                                                                                            • Aldi Stores Ltd (UK & Ireland)
                                                                                                                            • Amazon.co.uk
                                                                                                                            • AOL
                                                                                                                            • Asda Group Ltd
                                                                                                                            • Bebo Inc
                                                                                                                            • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
                                                                                                                            • British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB)
                                                                                                                            • BT Group plc
                                                                                                                            • Burger King UK Ltd
                                                                                                                            • Co-operative Group
                                                                                                                            • EMI Group plc
                                                                                                                            • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                            • FriendsReunited
                                                                                                                            • Friendster Inc
                                                                                                                            • Google UK
                                                                                                                            • Government Actuary's Department (GAD)
                                                                                                                            • HomeChoice
                                                                                                                            • J. Sainsbury
                                                                                                                            • Lidl (UK)
                                                                                                                            • LinkedIn
                                                                                                                            • Marks & Spencer
                                                                                                                            • Microsoft Ltd (UK)
                                                                                                                            • Monster
                                                                                                                            • MSN UK
                                                                                                                            • MySpace.com
                                                                                                                            • Nielsen Media Research, Inc.
                                                                                                                            • Office for National Statistics
                                                                                                                            • Red Bull UK
                                                                                                                            • T-Mobile (UK) Ltd
                                                                                                                            • Tesco Plc
                                                                                                                            • The Viral Factory UK
                                                                                                                            • Virgin Mobile
                                                                                                                            • Vodafone Group Plc (UK)
                                                                                                                            • Waitrose
                                                                                                                            • Wm Morrison Supermarkets
                                                                                                                            • Yahoo! UK & Ireland
                                                                                                                            • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                            Social Networking Across the Age Gap - UK - February 2009

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