GfK study: Virtual interactions ‘as good as being there’ for nearly a quarter

Newsroom 16/03/2016 | 12:05

Internationally, 23 percent of online consumers say virtual interactions can be as good as being there in person, shows a study conducted by GfK globally. This compares to just 15 percent who disagree.

Opportunities for virtual interactions are increasingly common in daily life – whether its video-conferencing at work, ‘face-timing’ via a smartphone, instant text chat via Facebook or WhatsApp etc, or even exploring cities and venues such as restaurants or museums using Google Street view or 3D-Panorama. But are these interactions as good as being there in person?

Agreement that virtual interactions can be as good as real life peaks with those aged 20-29 and 30-39, with at 28 percent and 27 percent respectively agreeing. This puts them comfortably ahead of teenagers, who are the next most ‘virtually minded’ generation, at 22 percent. Unsurprisingly, agreement falls off rapidly amongst older generations. One in five (20 percent) of 50-59 year olds disagree that virtual interactions can be as good as in-person contact, compared to just 15 percent voting the opposite way. And, for those aged 60 and over, almost a third (27 percent) disagree versus just one in ten (11 percent) who agree. Brazil and Turkey are most ‘virtually minded’; Germany and Sweden are least Brazil and Turkey top the list for online consumers who believe virtual interactions can be as good as being there in person, with a third (34 percent) in each country claiming this. They are followed by Mexico (28 percent), China (27 percent) and Russia (24 percent).

These findings have applications for almost all businesses. Whether it’s using augmented reality to enhance marketing and advertising or embracing video conferencing to bring down travel costs for meetings – knowing which markets and consumer segments are most open to virtual interactions is an essential starting point.

The other end of the scale is lead by Germany, with nearly a third (32 percent) on online consumers there disagreeing that virtual can be as good as in-person interactions. They are followed by Sweden at 29 percent, and then two ‘tied’ results: the Czech Republic and Belgium at just over a quarter (26 percent) and the Netherlands and UK at just under a quarter (23 percent). To download the full 22-country findings, go to www.gfk.com/globalstudies/global-study-overview/

GfK conducted an online survey with over 27,000 consumers aged 15 or older in 22 countries. Online data were collected using a staggered field start that completed in June 2015 and weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population age 15+ in each market. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK and USA.

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