Consumers say they’ll answer Ireland’s Call – Virgin Media Research

Average daily broadband usage by Virgin Media customers rockets by 91% to 19GB per day, since February 2020


Consumers have strongly indicated they will consciously support local shops and businesses both in person and online when the pandemic is finally over, according to research commissioned by Virgin Media Ireland and conducted independently by Amárach Research.


The Virgin Media research surveyed over 1,200 people aged 18 and over across all regions of the country.


·       90% of respondents say they intend to shop local as much as they can.


·       Shopping online, 8 in 10 people said they will consciously buy Irish goods and services where there is a choice to do so.


·       Similar numbers (80%+) expressed a view that people will need to ‘do more’ to support local businesses and employers as the pandemic comes to an end.


·       50% of people are currently shopping more online than they ever did before the pandemic.  And, with the ongoing reopening, a strong preference has emerged for a continuing blended approach.


·       The current daily usage of Virgin Media broadband customers (typically including downloads, streaming video, working from home, gaming, shopping and everyday online activities) has rocketed by 91% to 19GB per day, since February 2020.


While large numbers of people have returned to main streets across Ireland for groceries, household supplies, furnishing, footwear and appliances, 4 in 10 said they will still prefer to shop both online and in-person for clothing, healthcare products, accessories, consumer electronics and home entertainment, indicating that businesses and retailers will need to offer the best of both worlds.


Irish online consumers wield considerable buying power with a current average monthly spend of €230 reported by those surveyed.  Roughly half of those surveyed said they had spent up to €100 online in the past month, while a third spent between €100 and €500, with 1 in 10 saying they spent up to €1,000 or more. Central Bank of Ireland statistics put online spending using credit and debit cards at €2.7bn for May 2021, an increase of 30% on the prior year, representing 47% of all Point of Sale spending for the month.


The research found that food takeaway and delivery to the home will continue to be popular with up to 70% of consumers in this category saying they will still be ordering online.


While the preference for online grocery shopping surged to record highs during the course of the pandemic, 8 in 10 people now say they have a preference to do all their groceries in-store, with the intention for continued online grocery shopping returning to previous norms and popularity (circa 20%).


The research also highlighted the importance of high speed broadband networks to life and living in Ireland. Figures from Virgin Media show that people are now far more engaged in online activity than ever before, which is set to continue. 


·       During the pandemic 44% of people increased their amount of streaming.  7 in 10 people now say they’ll continue watching the same or more Netflix content.


·       40% of people say they use broadband between 2 - 5 hours daily watching a variety of streaming video services.


·       On average, 25% of all respondents said they’re using broadband to watch video streaming services more than ever before, including Netflix, YouTube & Amazon Prime, while 20% said they’re watching more video content on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.


  • In a clear sign of online activity leading to changing consumer behaviour, nearly 1/3 of respondents said they had started listening to more podcasts and Spotify during lockdown, with 9 out of 10 people saying they’ll continue to listen to the same amount or more after lockdown.


·       With Zoom meetings and online video calls keeping people connected with their family and friends during the lockdown, half of all respondents said they’re still ‘Zooming’ to some extent for social gatherings (not work related), and overall, 40% of us are now doing this more than ever before.


·       4 in 10 people said they have recently published content online, from making and sharing a video, podcast, music recording or other activity, and among those who haven’t, a significant 33% (one-third of respondents) said they’ll do it in the near future.


·       A third of people said they’re reading more books than ever before, both online and offline, with a total 75% saying they regularly enjoy this much loved pastime.


·       Expectations around working behaviours also seem to have changed for good, with 8 in 10 people saying they favour a hybrid working model, spending some days working both at home and in the office.  Respondents said their most favoured split in remote working habits is to work 3 days at home / 2 days in the office (43%) while 15% said they’d prefer that in reverse (2 days at home / 3 in the office).


The findings are reflected in Virgin Media’s own network statistics, where since February 2020 the 1GB broadband provider has seen a 91% increase in overall downstream data usage across its superfast network which passes 1m homes nationwide.