The survey reveals that 41% of internet users in the UK already use Web 2.0 sites, to interact and participate with others in a massive worldwide community of users. Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube, Flickr and MySpace allow the direct exchange of ideas and information between individuals.
Booz Allen Hamilton interviewed several thousand consumers in the UK, Germany and the USA between August and October 2006 (n=2400) about their attitude to Web 2.0, what it offers in the broad sense, and about their actual user behaviour.
Some of the survey conclusions:
- Web 2.0 usage is prevalent across all age groups and both sexes
“Contrary to popular belief, this phenomenon is not just a ‘young male’ trend” says Dr Uwe Lambrette, “people of all ages, both male and female are using these sites”. Although newer sites still have predominantly young user communities (50% of MySpace users are under the age of 25), a significant proportion fall into the older 35-49 age bracket (24%). The more established the site, the more balanced the age group using it â€“ 25% of Amazon users are over the age of 50. Over time, sites such as MySpace and YouTube are expected to see a similar adoption trend.
- Web 2.0 users share and participate, without privacy concerns
With increasing familiarity many Web 2.0 users are sharing content and private information on-line. Around 70% of UK MySpace users have created their own content to share. In general, users have little concern about privacy: although 61% of users upload materials intended only for themselves or their friends, only 39% of users actually restrict access for the general public.
- Web 2.0 users rely on recommendations from anonymous peers
Virtual Web 2.0 communities play an important role in opinion-forming. The survey found that nearly half (43%) of UK MySpace users are happy to use purchasing recommendations from unknown peers. This implies new ways to form opinion and make buying decisions, significantly affecting usersâ€™ purchasing behaviour.
- Web 2.0 creates both threats and opportunities for existing business models
Unless businesses recognise and respond to such trends, the shift in consumer behaviour is likely to have an adverse effect on both customer acquisition and retention. Competitors can be expected to take advantage of online channels to win customers, while utilising social communities to drive buying decisions and to form positive product opinions. Businesses can also use Web 2.0 to increase operational efficiency, for example, by utilising existing or self-created online forums and shift product support and decision-making to online communities, delivering efficient and transparent feedback on product marketplace acceptance.
- Web 2.0 has already reached a critical mass â€“ companies must now adapt to the new paradigm
The mass appeal of Web 2.0 is already established with sites such as MySpace and Friends Reunited. The need to evolve existing business models by integrating the Web 2.0 environment is urgent.