Social factors

In the last chapter, in the sections on customer adoption of Internet technology, we looked at how Internet usage varies across different countries in terms of levels of access, amount of usage, its influence on offline purchase and the proportion of online purchases. These variations are in part dependent on how the Internet is perceived in society. An indication of how social perceptions shape access is clear from a UK government-sponsored survey (Booz Allen Hamilton, 2002) of perceptions in different countries. It noted that social barriers to adoption of the Internet included:

• No perceived benefit

• Security problems

These factors combine to mean that there is a significant group in each national population of around a third of the adult population that does not envisage ever using the Internet. Clearly, the lack of demand for Internet services from this group needs to be taken into account when forecasting future demand. It is not sufficient to simply extrapolate past rates of Internet adoption growth, since in many developed countries it appears that penetration within households is reaching a plateau as saturation of services amongst those who require them is reached. Taking the UK as an example of possible saturation of fixed PC-based Internet access, National Statistics (2005) reports that in the UK, just under one third (32 per cent) of adults had never used the Internet as of May 2005. Of those who had not used the Internet, 43 per cent stated that they did not want to use, or had no need for, or no interest in, the Internet; 38 per cent had no

Internet connection; and 33 per cent felt they lacked knowledge or the confidence to use it. These adults were also asked which of four statements best described what they thought about using the Internet. Over half (55 per cent) of non-users chose the statement 'I have not really considered using the Internet before and I am not likely to in the future'. This core group of non-Internet users represented 17 per cent of all adults in the UK.

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