Research conducted by us at Redfield & Wilton Strategies in Germany, France, Italy and Spain indicates that having a new interaction with someone online has increasingly become part of the “new normal.” In particular, we found that a clear plurality (between 22% and 39%) of European respondents have met someone new online since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Between the four nations, Italian respondents were the most likely to have met someone new online (39%) compared to German respondents who were the least likely (22%). This may be because Italians, who were one of the earliest to implement a lockdown, were forced to innovate new ways to stay connected at an earlier stage. In similarly numbers to Germany, roughly a quarter of French (25%) and Spanish (24%) respondents said they had met someone new online.
In all four countries, more than a third of those in the younger segment of the population (18-34 years old) said they met someone new online since the pandemic started. A larger proportion of 18-34 years old Italian (43% to 42%) and French (43% to 42%) respondents had met someone new than German (37% to 38%) and Spanish (36% to 39%) respondents.
Of course, “meeting someone new online” could have many different connotations. Remote working, for instance, has certainly fostered many “new” encounters. Others may have met someone new on a more personal basis.
For instance, we found that a significant proportion of respondents had been on a virtual date in France (13%), Germany (12%), Italy (13%) and Spain (14%), although the extent to which these virtual dates include ‘first dates’ is unclear.
Confirming our finding above, those in between the ages of 18 to 34 were the most likely across all four countries to have been on a virtual date. Between 23% and 25% of young Germans, 27% and 25% of young Italians, and 28% of young Frenchmen have indeed done so since the virus hit the continent.
Remote working, on the other hand, is a more widespread cause of online interaction. Research conducted by us in June revealed that more than a quarter of respondents in all four countries were more likely to seek a type of employment that could allow them to work from home after the pandemic.
In Spain in particular, a third of respondents were more likely to do so once life returns to normal, a figure mounting to 45% among those between the ages of 18 to 24.
Overall, our research indicates that, since the start of the pandemic, a noteworthy proportion of European respondents have had some form of online interactions. Those living in Italy and Spain were particularly likely to have met someone new online or been on a virtual date.