This Tuesday Questia Group focuses on online cultural consumption and attitudes towards digital piracy. Our research was made through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 504 respondents. The survey was active on 14 March 2017. Our findings are presented below.

Our study had as a starting point The Cultural Consumption Barometer 2015. Preferences, practices, trends carried out by the research team of the National Institute for Cultural Research and Training. The Barometer deals with issues related to cultural management, non-public cultural consumption, digital piracy, visual arts, film and cinema consumption, youth culture and creativity, participation in festivals and overall cultural consumption and leisure practices within the public space in Romania.

Overview

At the EU-level, there are some special researches, studies regarding cultural consumption, cultural access and participation and overall cultural statistics. For instance, according to Eurostat’s 2016 Culture Statistics, (pp. 115-137) the main cultural activities across the EU are:

  • Reading habits (books and newspapers)
  • Going to the cinema
  • Attending live performances
  • Visiting cultural sites (historical monuments, museums, art galleries)
  • Using the internet.

In our article, we focus mainly on online cultural activities that Romanian engage in. In this sense, The 2013 Special Eurobarometer Report - Cultural Access and Participation also measures the role of the Internet in enabling EU citizens to access and participate in cultural activities. Across the EU, 30% of respondents said that they used the Internet at least once a week to look for cultural information, buy cultural products or read cultural articles; 11% said they access this information once a day, 11% several times a week and 8% once a week.

Out of those who use the Internet for cultural purposes (56% of the whole sample from the 2013 Eurobarometer) they do so in order to read newspaper articles (53%), search for cultural information (44%) and listen to the radio or to music (42%). The other suggested uses are all widespread among those using the Internet for cultural purposes, including downloading music (31%), streaming or downloading TV and movies (27%) and buying books, CDs, and tickets (27%). Here are more information on this topic.

Respondents in the northern European Member States are consistently more likely to participate in the cultural activities, where Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg stand out for the high proportions of citizens with “very high” and “high” cultural index scores. Countries with the lowest participation levels were consistently found in Southern Europe (Greece, Cyprus, and Portugal) and Eastern Europe (Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria). However, participation in cultural activities has decreased since 2007, with increases of “low” scores, most strikingly in Hungary (+26), Romania (+14) and Greece (+8). See more here.

Some of the motifs that stand behind the decline of participation in cultural activities since 2007 are the economic crisis, the fact that some products are” too expensive”, or the lack of interest and time (Cultural Access and Participation Report 2013, p. 61). However, socio-demographic factors are also very important indicators of cultural participation. Generally, “the most educated, those in high-status occupations and those who almost never have financial difficulties are most likely to take part in cultural activities to the fullest extent” (Cultural Access and Participation Report 2013). Also, age plays a crucial role: European youngsters (aged 15-24) and students show higher levels of participation than other groups in many cultural activities. It seems that this is the age of which the greatest diversity of activities is experienced. See more on this topic here.

As for Romania, what’s trending for some time are activities like going to the mall, along with going to festivals. However, in rural areas, cultural life is even scarcer than in the cities. According to Eurostat’s 2016 Culture Statistics 42.4% Romanians are living in the rural areas.

Findings

We grouped online activities in categories related to information, entertainment, professional use, socialization and communication, cultural consumption and online shopping. Similar to the findings in the Cultural Consumption Barometer, respondents daily use the internet for browsing on social media, for reading newspapers and online magazines, for professional use/ work, reading e-mails and listening to music. Finding information about cultural events is done in most cases daily, but also weekly (32%), since participation in cultural events usually happens a few times a month. Finding information about traveling is rather done monthly (27.7%), as this is a seasonal activity.

online activities

Listening to music online is done both daily (49.3%) and weekly (27.7%), playing online is something Romanians engage in daily (40.3%) and weekly (18,8%) – especially on mobile devices. The share of those watching series/movies online is higher on a weekly basis (27.7%) while shopping online is a monthly (33.5%) activity.

online activities 2

When it comes to music purchase, in 75.1% of cases respondents say they are listening to music for free through websites/streaming platforms (like Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify etc.), also in 39.1% of cases they download torrents or have free access, through friends or other people (23.7%). In some cases (21.1%) respondents buy CDs/ DVDs/ Blu-ray (21.1%).

music purchase

Movies purchase is rather made through websites/ streaming platforms (Popcorn Time) in 60.2% of cases, free downloading / torrents in 40.4% of cases or free, through friends or other people in 23.7% of cases. Thus, music and movies are the most widely consumed goods, and at the same time the most hacked cultural goods.

movie purchase

As for digital piracy, it annually produces big financial losses, attracts a series of negative effects like loss of income, loss of a large number of jobs, and can discourage artists. Online, users tend to perpetuate a free rider attitude. At the same time, digital piracy can offer benefits to underdeveloped states. This is a parallel effect because it allows underdeveloped states to access goods that can improve their standard of living (The Cultural Consumption Barometer 2015, p.114).

digital piracy attitudes

As for attitudes regarding digital piracy, almost half of respondents totally agree to the fact that computers can be affected by viruses when engaging in such activities (57.2%), at the same time the risk are undertaken because piracy offers access to a diversity of movies and music greater than buying them (50.3%). Considering both the negative and the positive aspects of digital piracy, most respondents agree (49.9%) with the fact that those who do so risk being fined. Nevertheless, more than a half consider that these actions have a negative impact on artists/creators (58.9%).

Don’t miss Questia Group's studies in the following weeks. Find out more about consumer behavior, attitudes and beliefs regarding numerous topics, from banking to consumer goods, the internet, leisure, marketing and retail in real time.