United Kingdom

eBay Data Reveals Resurgence of Physical Media

eBay News Team

The UK is experiencing a comeback of books, music, movies and games you can hold in your hands – especially among 18-24 year olds.

The way we consume entertainment and media has transformed drastically over the last 10 years. Where digital media has given us unparalleled access, ease and convenience to the entertainment we love, physical media has stood the test of time as an emotional anchor to ownership and collecting. Recent research by eBay in the UK reveals a resurgence of physical media, with over half of Brits preferring to buy books, music, films and videogames in their physical rather than digital form.

This new insight, based on a survey of over 2,000 UK shoppers, reveals that more than three-quarters (76%) of British adults – over 39 million people – have bought at least one item of physical media in the last year. That’s enough DVDs to fill 114,000 shelves.

“In today’s digitized world, physical media has an emotional and social cache that appeals to our desire to own the things we love, as well as our penchant for status and showing off,” said Rob Hattrell, Vice President, eBay UK.

This preference for physical media also seems to be fueled by an increasing desire to disconnect from the digital world. 18-24 year olds in the UK are powering the resurgence, with 83% of these “digital natives” having bought a physical book, CD, vinyl, DVD, Blu-ray disk or video game disc or cartridge in the last year. In fact, digital natives are buying more physical books than even baby boomers (55-64 year olds) and retirees (aged 65 and over).

When it comes to gifting, physical media is the UK’s format of choice, and more than half (54%) of shoppers in the UK have bought a book, DVD, CD, vinyl record or video game as a gift for someone else in the last year. About a third (35%) of Brits say they would buy books as presents, and two out of five video game purchasers (40%) say they buy video games to give as Christmas gifts.

And despite the sharing economy, shoppers want to own the things they love – partly to show off their personality. With the rise of the “shelfie” craze on Instagram, Brits have taken to displaying their tastes through photos of their book collections and more: 17% of 18-24 year olds in the UK would buy records to show off on their shelves.

Our research also revealed:

  • 70% of UK shoppers like the look and feel of physical media

  • 65% of Brits say having their media in a physical format gives them a greater sense of ownership than digital borrowing

  • The majority (88%) of consumers in the UK currently own at least one device for accessing physical media, such as a record or CD player, DVD or Blu-ray player or gaming console

  • 1 in 8 18-24 year olds in the UK own more than 100 books

  • 42% of vinyl buyers in the UK like to buy vintage items that have a history behind them

  • Two out of five (41%) vinyl purchasers in the UK are motivated by owning their collection

  • 54% of DVD buyers in the UK value ownership

  • 18% of video game buyers in the UK think physical games offer higher quality

About this research

In August 2017 eBay conducted new research in collaboration with ICM Unlimited among a representative sample of 2,009 consumers in the UK aged 18+ to find out how and why they buy physical media. ICM Unlimited’s interviews included 176 18-24 year olds, 263 65-74 year olds, 897 men, 1,112 women, 1,826 readers, 1,895 music listeners, 1,870 who watch movies at home and 951 video game players. Figures have been weighted to be representative of adults in the UK. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.