Culture, Climate Blamed for Low Net Usage in Southern Europe

[London, ENGLAND] Despite the fact that Southern
Europe has practically the same climate as California,
Forrester Research
blames the weather as one factor in the slow take-up
of the Internet in Italy, Spain and France.

“On a sunny day, Southern Europeans may not be tempted
to stay inside and shop online, while Northern Europeans
often don’t have that choice,” said William Reeve, group
director, European data products at Forrester Research B.V.

However, the chief causes of Southern Europe’s laggardly
performance — again according to Forrester — are deeply
rooted cultural traditions which are resistant to any
kind of change in behavior.

“The main North-South cultural divide between the
‘Catholic South’ and ‘Protestant North’ applies most
strongly to middle-aged consumers. Older consumers in
the Southern European markets find it more difficult
to become familiar with new technologies,” said Reeve.

Forrester’s latest “findings” are explained in a
recent Brief, published as part of its Technographics
Europe research program.

But does it ring true? There appears to be no good
reason why a Catholic farmer in a hot part of the world
should not benefit from the Internet just as much as
anyone else. The cost of Internet access, PCs, and telephone
charges, together with other economic factors — such
as poverty — must surely play their part.

But Forrester insists that demographics alone are not
the whole story. Far from it. They play a lesser role,
according to the researchers.

“Forrester finds education to be a more important predictor
of technology adoption, while income is slightly less useful,”
said Reeve.

Internet entrepreneurs who wish to penetrate markets in
Southern Europe need to consider culture and attitudes,
say the researchers, who go on to advise companies to
target such institutions as churches and seniors’ clubs if
they want to reach “the reluctant middle-aged.”

From a Californian perspective, where a Mediterranean
climate and a farming culture have certainly not stunted
the growth of the Internet, it must all seem very strange.
According to a UCLA

to be released in October, the Internet is now a more important
source of information than television, radio and magazines
for the majority of Americans.

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