Everybody hates voice messages – right?
Behind the scenes

Everybody hates voice messages – right?

Stephan Kurmann
Translation: Elicia Payne

Voice messaging divides Europe: while every second person likes to send and receive them in Italy and France, they’re less popular in the DACH region. Why’s that? They’re too long, non-transparent and indiscreet when playing aloud. Digitec Galaxus found these and other answers in a representative study in the DACH countries, France and Italy.

In May, an article by the Galaxus editorial team on the subject of voice messages got a lot of attention from the Community. Many users let out their frustration about the unloved audio messages in the comments section.

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Digitec Galaxus wanted to get to the bottom of it and had a total of 2,500 people in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland surveyed about their own communication behaviour, including voice messages.

Please text, don’t call

In all five countries, text messages are by far the most popular means of communicating with friends.

The Swiss are the European champions in texting: 77% of those surveyed say they most often contact their friends via text message. In Italy and France, text messages are also the most popular communication medium, but at a significantly lower level.

Compared to other countries, the Austrians and French make the most phone calls – just under a third of the participants prefer to call friends. People in Switzerland are rather reluctant to make phone calls: only 15% of the Swiss contact their friends mostly via call.

Other European communication preferences: the French send picture and video messages more frequently, video calls are least popular in Switzerland, and e-mail is relatively popular among Germans.

Italy: the land of voice messages

The active and passive communication preferences are similar. The main differences can be seen with making phone calls. In general, the participants prefer to take calls rather than call someone themselves – especially in Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

Italy is home to the most active senders of voice messages. 13% of respondents check in with their amiche and amici most often via voice message. People in Switzerland, on the other hand, seem to appreciate them the least.

Preference in voice messages: passive rather than active

Basically, voice messages are unpopular in the DACH region. More than a third of participants find voice messages pointless. In Switzerland, the rejection rate is highest at 46%.

The survey also shows that people prefer to receive voice messages rather than send them. This preference can be observed in all five countries surveyed.

In Switzerland, the gap is the largest: 21% of respondents like to receive voice messages but only 3% like to send them. In Germany, this difference is eight per cent points; in Italy only six.

The annoying aspect of voice messages

Black box voicemail: in the DACH region, people are most annoyed by the fact that voicemails aren’t transparent. In other words, you can’t immediately see what it’s about – unlike with text messages. In Switzerland, 56% of participants are also bothered by the fact that they can’t listen to the message discreetly – for example, while at work.

Italians think it’s tedious that voice messages are often very long. French people seem to be concerned about being time-efficient. They’re particularly annoyed by the fact that they have to listen to voice messages again at a later time, unless they reply immediately.

France: 33 % listen to voice messages immediately

France is probably the fastest place to get a reply to your voice message. 33% of French people say they listen to voice messages immediately.

In second place in terms of «listening speed» is Italy. 24% of Italians listen to the voice message subito. In Austria and Switzerland, it might take longer to receive a response. Strikingly, not a single participant in Italy said they listened to messages the next day or later.

Most survey participants act very self-determined: they listen to the voice message as soon as they have time. In Austria and Switzerland, two-thirds of participants don’t get stressed when listening and replying.

Voice messages are usually listened to at regular speed. The French are pressed for time: every fourth person increases the playback speed.

What’s your opinion on voice messages? Are they a welcome change from calls and text messages? Or a useless invention for people too lazy to type? Join the discussion in the comments.

Double premiere: The market research institute Link, rather than GfK, is now conducting representative surveys for Digitec Galaxus. Another new feature is that the surveys were previously restricted to the DACH region, but now people from Italy and France also take part. This survey was conducted in September 2023.

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Studies claim that we have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Ouch! My job is to get your attention as often and for as long as possible. How? With content you enjoy. Outside of the office, you’ll find me on the tennis court, curled up with a book, Netflixing or travelling. 

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