Virgin Media's latest Digital Insights Report shows growth in online spending

The report focusses on three main areas - Digital Economy, Digital Lives and Digital Media.

Maeve McLaughlin
by Maeve McLaughlin on 21st September, 2016

Virgin Media launched its latest Digital Insights Report this morning.

It’s the third of these reports, which have been published every two years since 2012, and it focusses on the Digital Economy, Digital Lives and Digital Media. We went along to the launch of the report, and here’s what we found out…

We’re spending money online - and the amount is increasing fast

The report says that, in value terms, the digital economy is now worth about 6% of Ireland’s GDP - and indications point to steady growth over the rest of the decade.

The average Irish adult now spends €80 online each month - an increase of 13% from 2014’s €71. Overall consumer spending grew by 9% in the same period, so the digital economy definitely has a large role to play.

In terms of why people buy online rather than in a shop, 72% of people saying they do so because they can get the thing they’re looking for at a lower price online.

Only 41% of online shopping could be attributed to Irish websites, so a lot of our online spending is still going overseas. Interestingly, nearly six in 10 people said they wouldn’t buy a product online if they knew they could get it for the same price at a local shop - so it’s not all bad news for local business.

We really, really like digital technology

We’re watching more TV on-the-move, keeping up-to-date with news via social media apps, and staying in touch with family using our smartphones.

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that 80% of people said use of digital technologies made them happy. In fact, the majority of people said it made them feel calm (80%), content (79%), sociable (76%) and energised (72%). In addition to this, 71% of people said the use of digital technology helps when with studying or learning new skills, and 53% said it helped them with their work.

In terms of the more negative sides of using digital technologies, 61% said it hindered their ability to go to sleep. And it seems we’re becoming much more dependent on staying connected, too.

The research asked people how much they would want to be compensated if their broadband access was removed, and the average amount came to a massive €390 per month. This is three times the amount that was stated in the 2014 survey.

Clearly we’ve become much more used to digital technologies in our daily lives, and access to these is really seen as an essential now.

Our smartphones are largely still being used to connect us with people

Despite predictions that smartphones would essentially become personal computers we could all carry around, the vast majority of us are still using our smartphones mainly for one-to-one communication.

The top four most frequently-used apps or functions on a smartphone are:

  • Texting - 58%
  • Talking - 50%
  • Facebook - 46%
  • WhatsApp - 42%

So, it seems smartphones have actually managed to stay true to their origins - and arguments that they’re resulting in us being anti-social appear to be unfounded.

TV is still big news

Although there is a big emphasis on social media in terms of news sharing these days, actually only a third of us (36%) are using social media as a news source.

TV is still king in this area, with 59% of us saying we’re getting our news and current affairs via this medium. 43% of us are using news or current affairs websites or apps, while 41% are listening to the radio and 38% are sticking with traditional newspapers and magazines (in paper form).

Separately, the report found that 61% of people are watching 4 hours of streaming content every week - the majority of which is entertainment-oriented. No wonder the broadband access is so important to us!

For more information on the report, check out Virgin Media’s video summary below…