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Press release
Press|Technology|Consumer Goods|Brand and Customer Experience|Digital Market Intelligence|Trends and Forecasting|United Kingdom|English

Virtual interactions ‘as good as being there’ for nearly a quarter of online consumers

Nuremberg, 24.02.2016

Internationally, 23 percent of online consumers agree virtual interactions can be as good as being there in person. In the UK, that falls to just 14 percent.

Nuremberg, February 25, 2016 – GfK has published findings from a 22-country survey showing that just under a quarter (23 percent) of online consumers internationally agree1 that virtual interactions with people and places can be as good as being there in person. This compares to just 15 percent who disagree1.  In the UK, however, only 14 percent agree, while 23 percent 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?  

Internationally, 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 comfortly 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 a 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.

British prefer interacting face to face

In the UK, there is a slightly different picture. Here, only 14 percent agree that virtual interactions can rival being there. while almost a quarter (23 percent) feel quite the opposite. Out of the 22 countries surveyed, the UK stands fifth-equal with the Netherlands for having the highest percentage of online population who do not believe that virtual interaction can be as good as face to face interaction.

Interestingly, British online women are slightly more ready that British online men to 'buy into' virtual interactions - standing at 15 percent saying they can be as good as being there, versus 13 percent for the men. And similarly, disagreement stands at 22 percent of British online women, compared to 24 percent of British online men.

When it comes to age groups, backing for virtual interactions is notably strongest amongst online Brits who are aged between 20 and 29 years old, with 27 percent saying it can be as good as 'in-person'. The next highest support is amongst those aged 30-39 years old, but stands at only 18 percent - much lower than amongst the twenty-somethings.

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).

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/global-studies/global-study-overview/

Virtual interactions can be as good as being there: total international agreement / disagreement

Virtual interactions can be as good as being there: country comparisons on agreement / disagreement