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Canadians keep it real

News, 25 February 2016

TORONTO: Americans are far more likely than Canadians to regard virtual interactions with people and places as good as being there in person, new research shows.

When researcher GfK surveyed 27,000 internet users across 22 countries and put this question to them, it found that, globally, 23% of respondents agreed that virtual experiences could be as good as reality.

Americans were on a par with the global figure, Mexicans were above average (28%), but Canadians were significantly below (13%).

Conversely, 15% of global respondents said they disagreed with the statement, compared to 23% of Canadians (as well as 22% of Americans and just 17% of Mexicans).

The report suggested that as consumers are inundated every day with marketing and advertising through virtual technology, the findings gave a much clearer insight regarding which markets and consumer segments are most open to virtual interactions.

For example, almost one in three (30%) working Americans aged 20 to 49 agreed that a virtual interaction such as FaceTime or Skype rivalled that of real-life communication. This indicates, said GfK, that these people would be more amenable to allowing technology to be a bigger part of daily life.

In contrast, Canadians preferred a personable approach and felt that in-person interactions still surpassed virtual communication: only 16% of Canadians aged 20 to 49 would support virtual technology as a viable alternative to real-life.

And even within Canada, there were distinct regional differences. The greatest level of support for virtual technology came in Ontario, where 16% agreed it could be an equivalent to face-to-face contact.

But that figure fell to just 5% in in the Atlantic provinces.

Among all 22 countries surveyed, the highest proportion of respondents putting virtual interactions on a par with in-person ones were from Brazil and Turkey (both 34%)

At the other end of the scale, 32% of Germans did not feel reality and virtual interaction were equal and therefore would be the least receptive.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff