EURO RSCG has polled 1,000 online Americans’ views on romance through the lens of digital media, publishing results in a paper, Love (and Sex) in the Age of Social Media. This ‘digital love’ survey was conducted in January 2011. [It’s interesting to note that EURO RSCG won the business for the Durex condom line in November 2010.]
In its introduction, EURO RSCG suggests that, “the Internet is the most powerful erogenous zone that the world has ever known.”
There are five aspects to digital love, based on these findings:
1. Observing love online. As more people do more daily activities online like banking, travel planning and job searching, they’re also bringing their love lives online. 41% of men and 28% of women believe it’s possible to have a romantic relationship with someone on the internet. This is most true among Gen Y consumers, nearly 1 in 2 of whom believe they can have love with someone online. Nearly the same proportions of men and women think that they can carry on an erotic relationship with someone online. And 1 in 2 men and women know someone whose relationship began online. Finally, online dating has gone mainstream, with over 1 in 2 men and women believing it to be so.
2. Experiencing love online. Over 50% more men have flirted online than women – 39% versus 23%. Again, more younger people of Gen Y flirt online — 49% overall. More men are attracted to people online than women, too — 26% of men say they’ve had “strong feelings of attraction” for someone online compared with 14% of women. And 22% of men compared with 12% of women say they’ve had a romantic, sexual or erotic relationship online.
3. Effects of love and sex online. EURO RSCG says that consumers who use online services as tools to meet love needs can do so for connection, interaction, recognition, affection, as well as arousal and passion. Online sexual content and discussions influence how some people think about sex: images influence 26% of men at 9% of women (again, a chasm between the sexes) and discussions influence 15% of men and 8% of women. More men than women see having online relationships as having positive effectives on face-to-face relationships; but, more women believe online relationships have negative effects on ‘off-line’ (face-to-face) relationships.
4. Cyber-cheating. The Internet has “eased the search for romantic partners,” says EURO RSCG. Beyond the mainstream sites of eHarmony.com and Match.com, a growing number of sites market to people seeking relationships beyond their committed mates (one that aggressively markets on satellite radio is called AshleyMadison.com with the tagline, “Life is short. Have an affair”). One analyst of this phenomenon, Todd Kendall, has opined that for married people, the internet reduces the chances of being caught. Two-thirds of both men and women agree that, “The Intenret has made it easier for people to cheat on their partners.” And, 1 in 3 knows someone whose relationship ended because of online actions.
5. Sites that ‘score.’ The internet today is a go-to place for people seeking romantic partners, the report asserts. One-third of men and 1 in 5 women see general social networking sites like Facebook as having the potential to lead them into a romantic or erotic relationship. More men than women rate every single kind of online channel as having the potential to lead them to a romantic relationship, from email and dating sites to match-making portals and Craigslist.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: In writing this post, my fingers kept typing in “EROS” instead of “EURO” when mentioning the company…Freudian slip of the typist. The bottom line is that, while men and women are online in equal numbers, their views on ‘digital love and sex’ greatly differ. While some women online do seek liaisons and hook-ups, more men do, and via more channels.