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Which type of communicator are you?

November 13, 2012

  • Ofcom research sorts the ‘always on’ from the ‘detached’ communicators

New analysis of the UK’s communication habits has found that people can be categorised into five different groups of communicators, ranging from the ‘always on’ to the ‘detached’.

Earlier this year, Ofcom’s Communication Market Report revealed that the UK is now texting more that talking. Further analysis of the research, published today, looks at the methods and frequency of communication, as well people’s attitudes towards it.

The study classifies adults into one of five groups, divided by the ways they choose to communicate and how often:

‘Always on’ (22% of adults) The youngest group, with half (50%) aged under 35, they communicate a lot, especially with their friends and family.

  • They are almost twice as likely to use services such as Twitter (28%) than the national average (16%).
  • More likely to own a mobile phone and have access to a computer than average – always on communicators use new technology to keep in touch.
  • They use their mobile phones especially for texting (90%) and calls (88%) and are more comfortable about sharing information online.

‘Enlightened’ (19% of adults) A younger group, with 44% aged under 35, enlightened communicators like to keep up to date with the latest technology.

  • They are more likely to say they are knowledgeable about the internet and are careful about sharing personal information online.
  • Enlightened communicators use text and email to keep in touch with friends and family, and around a third say their use of email has increased in the past two years.

‘Middle-of-the-road’ (22% of adults) Generally aged 35-54, their levels of communication are much more in line with the general population.

  • Middle-of-the-road communicators tend to use a range of methods to keep in touch, with face to face (78%) their favourite.
  • They are most likely to be hesitant about sharing personal opinions on social media and will tend to let others try out new services first before they give them a go themselves (11% say they are the first to try new products and services compared to 21% overall).

‘Conventional’ (21% of adults) The oldest group, with almost half (47%) aged over 65, conventional communicators tend to be retired and live on their own.

  • Conventional communicators are more likely to have a landline phone (81%), rather than a computer (39%) or mobile phone (73%).
  • Their top preferred methods of keeping in touch with friends and family are meeting face to face (75% compared to 67% nationally) or calling them on their home phone (16% compared to 10% nationally).
  • On special occasions such as birthdays, they are more likely to send their friends or family a card or present in the post (69%) than the overall population (58%).

‘Detached’ (16% of adults) More likely to be men across a wide range of ages, communication isn’t a priority for them.

  • They are least likely to choose to meet someone face to face, with only 42% saying it is their top preferred method of communicating with friends and family compared to 67% nationally.
  • They are more likely to use newer quick form text methods of communication, such as Twitter than the overall population (19% v 16%).

The research asked respondents the extent to which they agreed with a number of statements. This highlights the varied attitudes among the five groups towards different methods of communication relative to the national average.

Attitudes towards different communication methods or technology, percentage of the group agreeing with the statement:


Main methods used on a daily basis by each group to communicate with friends and family (percentage of adults):


Today’s research is used to understand the breadth of communication methods used by UK adults, in line with our duty to undertake and publish consumer research. In October 2011, Ofcom assumed new regulatory responsibilities for postal services. This year’s Communication Market Report included new research to understand consumers’ use of all forms of communication which, for the first time, included post.

The full report is available here.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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