77% of Americans Would Rather Own Digital Items Than Stream Them
Digital Ownership Report 2022 Reveals Attitudes Toward Digital Items and Ownership Are Changing
- More than half (52%) of Americans said they buy, sell, or trade digital items
- Among those who purchase digital items, nearly three in ten (28%) spend over $49 a month on them
- And most (61%) prefer to receive them as gifts vs physical ones, while more than three quarters (78%) are emotionally attached to them
London, July 13th, 2022: A new study by metaverse platform Virtua has found that the vast majority of Americans would rather own digital items than stream them (77%), with more than a quarter (28%) spending over $49 a month on the likes of digital art, music, and in-game items.
These findings indicate a shift away from the golden era of streaming, shaped by the likes of Spotify and Netflix, towards a new age in which consumers seek to acquire, store, and curate digital items.
The research, based on a new survey of 2,000 Americans, highlights a strong attachment to digital items – with the majority of those who purchased digital items (65%) valuing them the same as or more than physical items, while more than three quarters (78%) feel emotionally attached to them, further reinforcing the growing importance of digital products in our lives.
This affinity with digital assets runs deep, with the majority of those who purchased digital items (61%) also preferring to receive a digital item (such as an NFT or in-game outfit or ‘skin’) as a gift rather than a physical one, perhaps in part due to feeling that owning digital items is better for the environment (38%).
Virtua CEO Jawad Ashraf said: “The metaverse is an exciting, enthralling, and inspirational space, yet to be fully realized and explored. With this research, we wanted to assess how the value we place on digital items is changing.
“As we prepare to launch our own metaverse, we are keen to understand how values around digital items – the ‘possessions’ we will own and take into the metaverse – are evolving. With the introduction of Web 3.0, the meteoric rise of digital collectibles, and the dawn of the metaverse, we will value our digital items more than ever before.”
The study found that when it comes to relationships, among Americans who purchased digital items, 70% say they connect better with others through their digital items than physical ones, while a further nine in ten (89%) agreed that losing their digital items would be upsetting.
American respondents also stated that some of the reasons they like to own digital items include that they remind them of important moments in their lives (87%), and help create the perception of who they want to be (73%).
Dr Janice Denegri-Knott, Professor in Consumer Culture & Behavior at Bournemouth University, said: “Virtua’s inaugural Digital Ownership Report is based on the largest ever intergenerational survey of its kind. It explores and evaluates what consumers think and feel about digital items and ownership.
“Some people assume we view digital ownership as less advantageous or desirable when compared to physical ownership, but the findings of this study suggest otherwise. There is a growing acceptance of digital ownership, with lines between owning digital and physical goods becoming blurred, in particular for younger cohorts. More people are clearly attached to their digital items than we thought.”
The research also revealed how different generations that purchase digital items view digital ownership and identity differently. Millennials are clearly leading the way, with nine in ten (90%) of this age group (24 – 42) feeling emotionally attached to digital items, while three quarters (74%) view them as a good investment.
Further reinforcing their connection to the digital world, most of those aged between 24 – 42 say their digital identity is important (80%), and nearly half (47%) view it as very important. 86% of the 24 – 42 demographic also said that digital items are part of who they are, and 73% said they are important to their identity – more than any other generational age group.
However, when it comes to trading and selling digital items, Gen-Z (aged 16 – 23) are the most active, with 30% selling digital items and 20% trading them. That said, more than half (52%) of all Americans said they buy, sell, or trade digital items.
The report and its findings have been published following Terra Virtua’s rebrand to ‘Virtua’. Under this new name, Virtua will launch its highly anticipated metaverse offering in the coming months.
You can download Virtua’s full Digital Ownership Report, which encompasses findings from both the US and UK, using the button below.