India's adoption of digital ways higher than the US: TNS

MUMBAI: Online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities.

India has a higher proportion of ‘engaged’ online users (43 per cent) than emerging Asian countries, though China leads in Asia on this front with more than half the respondents highly engaged.

Incidentally, India has a slightly higher proportion of highly engaged users than the US and that is despite the huge infrastructure gap and costs of accessing internet.
The largest ever global research project into people’s online activities and behaviour - Digital Life – has been launched by custom research company TNS.

Covering 88 per cent of the world’s online population through 50,000 interviews with consumers in 46 countries, the study reveals a number of very significant findings as well as providing indicators for the future of the world’s online behaviour.

The core data from the study is being made publicly available via an interactive website,, with TNS providing more detailed reports and breakdowns to its clients.

Among the key findings of the study, the India highlights were:

- Online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities. When looking at behaviour online, rapid growth markets such as Egypt (56 per cent) and China (54 per cent) have much higher levels of digital engagement than mature markets such as Japan (20 per cent), Denmark (25 per cent) or Finland (26 per cent). This is despite mature markets usually having a more advanced internet infrastructure.

- Activities such as blogging and social networking are gaining momentum at huge speed in rapid growth markets. The research shows four out of five online users in China (88 per cent) and over half of those in Brazil (51 per cent) have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to only 32 per cent in the US.

More than one fourth of the respondents in India update their blog / forum at least several times a day which is higher than a lot of developed countries. It is more than double the percentage of users doing that in North America. The Internet has also become the default option for photo sharing among online users in rapid growth markets, particularly in Asia.

The number of online consumers who have ever uploaded photos to social networks or photo sharing sites is 92 per cent in Thailand, 88 per cent in Malaysia and 87 per cent in Vietnam, whilst developed markets are more conservative. 
TNS India VP Sandeep Budhiraja highlights, “India seems to be on the move and one need to read these numbers keeping in mind the infrastructure woes that India has - the costs of internet connectivity being much higher than say China and the US. With the broadband and 3G launches are around the corner, digital usage and adoption is poised to take off in India. If you are in the digital industry then India is the place to be as very soon we would have scores of people watching cricket live on our mobiles”.

Less than a third of online consumers in Japan (28 per cent) and under half of those in Germany (48 per cent) have uploaded photos to such sites. India is in the top five countries in the world where TNS sees many users upload photographs at least several times a week. Turkey leads with every second person doing it with India having around 35 per cent people uploading photographs several times a week.

Goodbye email, hello social networking : One further finding of the study showed that online consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn than on email, despite the former only becoming mainstream in many markets over the last few years. In rapid growth markets such as Latin America, the Middle East and China, the average time spent, per week, on social networking is 5.2 hours compared to only four hours on email.

Online consumers in mature markets remain more reliant on email, spending 5.1 hours checking their inboxes compared to just 3.8 hours on social networking. The heaviest users of social networking are in Malaysia (9 hours per week), Russia (8.1 hours per week) and Turkey (7.7 hours per week). India is yet to catch up with this as social networking usage is around 2 hours per week and just a slightly more i.e. 2.4 hours per week of email usage currently.

When it comes to who has more friends, online consumers in Malaysia top the list with an average of 233 friends in their social network, closely followed by Brazilians with 231. Indian users have 72 friends at an average in their social network. The least social are the Japanese with just 29 friends and Tanzanians have, on average, 38 in their circle of friends.

Surprisingly, Chinese consumers only have an average of 68 friends in their networks despite being heavy users of social networking sites, indicating a culture that embraces fewer but closer friendships.

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