Digital habits differ worldwide

12 October 2010

LONDON: Consumers in emerging markets are the most engaged audiences regarding digital activities like social networking and blogging, a study has revealed.

Research firm TNS surveyed 48,804 web respondents from 46 countries, and found 61% used digital media each day, falling to 54% for television, 36% concerning radio, 32% for newspapers and magazines' 14%.

More specifically, 82% of North Americans utilised new media on a daily basis, measured against scores of 83% in Northwest Europe and 69% in Southeast Europe.

The Middle East and Africa (MENA) posted 62%, followed by Developing Asia – encompassing Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan – on 57% and China on 56%.

Latin America hit 53% and Emerging Asia – Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand – delivered 42%, with sub-Saharan Africa on 23% and India on 22%.

Approximately 30% of participants in the last two areas assessed had only started using the internet during the last two years, declining to 2% in Developing Asia and 1% in North America.

Elsewhere, 81% of those polled in sub-Saharan Africa agreed "in the online world, I can better express my feelings", reaching 66% in India, 64% in China, 61% in MENA and 56% in Emerging Asia.

Email recorded the highest proportion of daily users on 72%, ahead of reading news on 55%, pursuing personal interests on 46%, the same amount as social networking.

A further 39% of contributors were looking for information, 37% consumed multimedia content, 27% took part in internet gaming and 12% bought goods and services via e-commerce platforms.

However, social networkers dedicated 4.6 hours every week to this pastime, contracting to 4.4 hours for email, 3.9 hours for personal interests, 3.1 hours for seeking information and 2.9 hours for gaming.

A majority of interviewees in Southeast Europe visited sites like Facebook each day, as did 54% of their peers in China and Latin America, and 50% in North America.

Northwest Europe was on 43%, MENA posted 42% and Emerging Asia registered 41%, with other regions lagging behind at present.

The heaviest social network users were in Malaysia on nine hours per week, Russia on 8.1 hours and Turkey on 7.7 hours.

At least a quarter of participants wanted to increase their social media activity ranging from streaming music and video, downloading apps, uploading photos and sharing links going forward.

A similar number viewed user-generated material to inform purchase decisions in categories such as computers mobile phones, automotive, video games, real estate and baby care.

In all, 53% of the Chinese sample joined brand communities to find out more about products, reaching 48% in Emerging Asia and 44% in Latin America, beating the 40% global average.

Just over a quarter of Americans expected their PC social network use to rise in the next 12 months, with 36% saying the same regarding logging on through a mobile phone.

The research also showed 88% of the Chinese cohort and 51% of Brazilian contributors had written a blog or forum entry, compared to 32% in the US.

Some 28% of respondents said "brand contact" was intrusive when sending email, 26% agreed for playing games, and 22% concurred for watching multimedia content or social networking.

In contrast, 49% of the panel had actively searched for brands while browsing, as had 46% in the process of shopping, 39% when pursuing a personal interest and 37% while seeking multimedia content.

Data sourced from TNS; additional content by Warc staff