Digital technologies are giving consumers more and more options for connecting and keeping in touch. But new GfK research shows that only 23% of online consumers in the US agree1 that virtual interactions with people and places “can be as good as being there in person.”
Internationally, the sentiment is identical to that in the US. Across 22 countries surveyed, 23% of online consumers see virtual interactions as potential substitutes for face-to-face meetings. Gender, sometimes a dividing line for consumer opinion, plays almost no role here, with 22% of men and 23% women globally in agreement with the statement.
Only after analyzing the country comparison do different levels appear. Brazil, Turkey and Mexico led the study with 34%, 34%, and 28% agreement, respectively. On the other hand, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic lead all 22 countries in disagreement, with levels of 32%, 29%, and 26%.
A thin divide in US consumer opinion
In the US, the level of disagreement with the statement about virtual interactions was 22%, compared to a global average of 15%. The disagreement scores remained exceedingly similar between US men and women.
|“Virtual interactions can be as good as being there”||Men||Women|
However, clear differences emerge when breaking down the results by age. Generally, positive perception of virtual interactions decreases as consumers grow older. The highest rates of agreement are found with the 20-to-29 and 30-to-39 age groups, registering at 33% and 34%. From there, positive perceptions of virtual interactions quickly dropped off. With the 40-to-49 group, agreement is only 24% before falling further to 12%, a score shared by the 50-to-59 and 60+ age groups.
Notes for the editor
1Top two / bottom two box responses from a 7-point scale where "1" means "disagree strongly" and "7" means "agree strongly. The survey question asked: Please indicate how strongly you personally agree or disagree with the following statement: “Virtual interactions with people and places can be as good as being there in person”.
About the study
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.
GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.