Does virtual presence match physical presence?

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Almost a quarter of the online population think virtual presence is ‘as good as being there‘. A survey of internet users from 22 countries has revealed that 23% of them believe virtual interactions with people and places can be as good as being there in person. And what’s more, those who are most positive about the technology are not from the USA or Asia.

The specific question that market analyst firm GfK posed was: 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”. Some 23% agrees and 15% completely disagrees with the statement.

The age groups 20 -29 (28% agree) and 30 -39 (27% agree) are the most ‘virtually minded’ followed by teenagers (22% agree). As can be expected, older generations are the least convinced. Amongst 50 -59 year olds 20% disagree that virtual interactions can be as good as real life interactions and amongst those aged 60 and over the figure is even higher with only 11% agreeing.

In big Asian economies like China, Japan and South Korea only a small percentage of online users are not convinced by the lure of virtual reality. Yet, Asia is not the most ‘virtually minded’.

Brazil (34% agree) and Turkey (34% agree) top the list for online consumers who believe virtual interactions can be as good as being there in person. They are followed by Mexico (28 %), China (27 %) and Russia (24 %). On the other end of the scale is Germany and Sweden with 32% Germans and 29% Swedes saying they completely disagree. They are followed by the Czech Republic and Belgium both at 26%.

“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,” states the press release that accompanies the report.

The GfK forecast data - as indeed most industry observers agree- indicates that initially the bulk of the early virtual reality adopters will come from the gaming industry. This will generate more awareness and could drive interest among consumers to try VR out in other aspects of their lives beyond entertainment which could eventually lead to broader use of the technology in other industries such as travel, retail, real estate, construction and more. GfK has more than 13,000 market research experts that contribute to its data gathering, which enables GfK to deliver global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries.