Communication choices - new research from OFCOM

Newly released research from Ofcom identifies five consumer segments in terms of their preferred communication choices. As well as looking at their preferences for new digital forms of communication, the research helps to understand their preference for particular forms of communication depending on the circumstance: with friends and family or with businesses. A range of different ways of communicating were investigated, including meeting face to face, using voice calls on fixed landline or on mobile phones, text messaging, emailing, instant messaging, social networking and postal correspondence.
While, a summary of the research was published as part of the Communications Market Report 20121, this new Research Report aims to complement the high-level findings about the growing use of digital communications, by outlining how the UK consumer population can be segmented into five distinct groups. By providing an insight into the communication preferences and tendencies of the population, the research offers an opportunity to dissect ‘the consumer’ into more specific groups of people who share similar attitudes and behaviours. Overall, the findings provide an attitudinal dimension to Ofcom’s existing work.
The main five segments they identify are:-

  1. ‘Always-on’ communicators (22% of all adults).  As the name suggests, ‘always-on’ communicators are those who communicate a lot, especially with their friends and family, and use a wide range of new technological methods to communicate. These are the youngest group with the greatest proportion still in education and are more likely than the general population to own a mobile phone and have access to a computer. In particular, they are avid users of their mobile phone, using it primarily to send text messages but also to call their friends and family.
  2. ‘Enlightened’ communicators (19% of all adults).  Enlightened communicators are also a younger group who communicate a lot, though are more likely to be working and in higher social grades than the ‘always-on’ group. Technology plays a key role in the communication choices for this group.
  3. ‘Middle-of-the-road’ communicators (22% of all adults). Middle-of-the-road communicators are more in line with the general population in terms of the frequency with which they communicate. They use a variety of traditional and newer ways of keeping in touch, with mobile calls, text messages and post the most used. They prefer traditional methods to automated services when contacting businesses. They are most likely to be hesitant about sharing personal opinions over social media such as Twitter, and say that they often “let others try out new services first before giving them a go themselves”.
  4. ‘Conventional’ communicators (21% of all adults). Conventional communicators are the oldest group; they are more likely than the general population to be retired and live on their own. This group communicates least frequently with others, is the least likely to have embraced new technology and tend to use the more traditional methods of communication such as landline calls and post.
  5. ‘Detached’ communicators (16% of all adults). Communicating with others is not a priority for this group: they communicate less frequently than the overall population. Their main method of keeping in touch with friends or family on a daily basis is using text messages, and given the choice, they are the least likely of all of the segments to choose to communicate face to face. While this group may not have particular views on communication methods, their usage pattern suggests they may be most likely to adopt quick methods such as Twitter, which are most like texting.
Ofcom has a duty to undertake and publish consumer research under sections 14 and 15 of the Communications Act 2003. Ofcom also has a regulatory goal to research markets constantly and to remain at the forefront of technological understanding. Ofcom commissioned Kantar Media to conduct quantitative research in February 2012 to understand the communication choices people make on a daily and weekly basis depending on who they are contacting. In total, 2,012 adults aged 16+ from across the UK were interviewed using a face-to-face omnibus with a nationally representative sample. A summary of the findings of this research was published as part of the Ofcom Communications Market Report 2012. This report provides additional analysis, focusing on five segments that have been identified based on differences in attitudes and behaviours relating to communication preferences and technology take-up.
The new research report on segmentation can be downloaded from
The full Communications Market report can be downloaded from
Compared to the overall population
‘Always on’ communicators  ‘Enlightened’ communicators  Middle-of-the-road’ communicators
‘Conventional’ communicators Detached communicators
More likely to be...
Young and still in education

Young, male working and ABC1

Aged 35-54
Older, female, living on their own and retired
Male, C2DEMore
More likely to communicate by...
Micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter)

Social Networking

Emailing / Texting
Landline Calls
Micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter)
Less likely to communicate by...
Landline Calls
 Post Micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter)
Micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter)
Text messaging
More likely to say...
I am happy to post messages online that a wide audience can see

I know more about the internet than most people I know
I think e-cards are impersonal
I find technology advances too quickly for me to keep up
Automated services have made communications with businesses easier

Less likely to say...
I think e-cards are impersonal
I find technology advances too quickly for me to keep up

I don't think about the cost when using communication methods, I just use the most convenient
I know more about the internet than most people I know
I communicate with my friends a lot

Source: Ofcom research, fieldwork carried out by Kantar Media February/March 2012

Figures for each segment within each category have been indexed against the figures for the overall population
November 2012
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