As Irish consumer engagement in social networks, media networks and messaging apps continues to grow, we see a greater opportunity for brands to use these networks as a means of advertising and reaching out to their consumers. However, a growing level of users are becoming wary of the threats of social media and this, paired with a rise in cyberbullying and trolling reports, means we may see consumers becoming more guarded online.

This report examines the online social networking sector in Ireland and highlights the social and media networking sites that Irish consumers are using, how they use these networks for purchasing, and the consumer attitudes towards online social and media networks.

Key themes of the report

  • What are the most popular social and media networking sites and messaging apps in Ireland? - Does Facebook still dominate the market? Is usage of any other social network experiencing growth? Are new platforms such as Viber and WhatsApp popular among Irish consumers?

  • How do consumers use social network sites in their purchasing process? - Do consumers turn to social network sites as sources of information when making purchases? Are consumers asking other users or companies for product information?

  • How do Irish consumers engage with brands on social networks? - Are consumers still following social networks due to artificial incentives, ie discount or competition? Or are consumers more aware of cyberbullying and harassment and has this had an effect on usage?

  • Are consumers changing how they communicate with each other? - With the improvements in 4G coverage will we see fewer consumers SMS texting and more using messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber?

Other Mintel reports of relevance include:

  • Attitudes to Advertising - Ireland, October 2014

  • Clothing Retail – Ireland, December 2014

  • Online and Mobile Retailing – Ireland, March 2015

  • Online Entertainment – Ireland, December 2014

  • Social Networking - Ireland, May 2014

  • Social Networking - US, June 2014

  • Social Networking – UK, May 2014


  • This report will examine online social media in Ireland through discussing what is influencing or impeding its growth on the island. Furthermore, this report will look at the two types of social media sites and messaging app:

  • Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, where the main aim is to interact with people.

  • Media networking sites such as Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram, where the main aim is to view, read, watch or create media content.

  • Messaging apps such as Viber, Snapchat and WhatsApp which enable users to send text, images, video and messages to one another.

Data sources

For the purpose of this report, Mintel has used exclusive online research to examine the social and media networking sites and messaging apps market in IoI. This report examines Irish consumers’ usage of social media and apps, the purchasing habits of consumers on social networks and their attitudes towards online social networking. The research was carried out by Toluna on behalf of Mintel in March 2015.

A total of 750 internet users aged 16+ in NI and 1,250 internet users aged 16+ in RoI were asked the following questions:

“Which of the following social networks do you use regularly (eg log-on at least once per week)?”

“Which of the following media networks do you use regularly (eg log-on at least once per week)?”

“Which of the following messenger apps do you use regularly (eg log-on at least once per week)?”

“Thinking about how you use social and media networks when considering a new purchase, which of the following statements do you agree with?”

“Still thinking about social and media networks, do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?”

The results from this survey are discussed in The Consumer sections of this report.

Please note that the results presented in The Consumer sections of this report relate to the usage and habits of Irish internet users only, and do not account for the behaviours of non-internet users. Eurostat (January 2015) highlights that 80% of RoI consumers have used the internet in the last 12 months, while the ONS (May 2014) highlights that 79% of NI consumers have used the internet.

Mintel also draws consumer insight from other sources:

  • Mintel’s database and previous Mintel reports from the UK and Ireland.

  • In compiling this report, Mintel has gathered data from separate NI and RoI sources (eg NISRA – Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and CSO – Central Statistics Office). In some cases, therefore, it has not been possible to provide comparable data for each region.

For the purpose of this report:

  • IoI refers to the island of Ireland.

  • NI refers to Northern Ireland.

  • RoI refers to the Republic of Ireland.

  • Therefore, ‘Irish consumers’ refers to both NI and RoI consumers.


CSO Central Statistics Office
EU European Union
HB Ice Cream Hughes Brother Ice cream
GB Great Britain
IoI Island of Ireland
MMS Multimedia Messaging Service
NI Northern Ireland
RoI Republic of Ireland
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