28 February 2023 Income Insurance Ltd (Income) has released findings from its online ‘Real Care’ survey examining how Singaporeans show and receive care with loved ones including family and friends in today’s digital era where expressions of care are often reduced to virtual emojis and text messages.
Since the pandemic, almost 1 in 2 people have been using emojis and/or text more regularly, but the perception of receiving and showing care, virtually or in-person revealed differences across four generations. On average, only 39% of respondents agreed that care is less sincere when conveyed through emojis and/or text, than when shown in person. Amongst the older generation, 52% of Baby Boomers also agreed that care is less sincere when shown virtually.
While Singaporeans have differing expectations between receiving and showing care, the biggest gap identified were amongst Gen Zs. In showing care to family and friends, they are most likely to send a text message (61%) as the most preferred behaviour when showing care, but on the contrary, when it comes to receiving care, they rank in-person visit (63%) as the most valued.
Generally, while 1 in 2 Singaporeans say that care is care regardless of it being in-person or digital, majority say they will make the effort to show care in-person to someone that matters, as they think it will be more valued by the receiver.
Conducted online with 2,091 Singaporeans, the ‘Real Care’ survey explores the perception of in-person and digital care in today’s context from respondent across different generations of the population that include Gen Zs (10 -27YO), Millennials (28-42YO), Gen Xs (43 -57YO), and Baby Boomers (58-76YO). In comparing the perception between ‘In-person care’ (phone calls, visits, gifts and meeting up) and ‘online’ methods (emojis, gifs, text messages and comments on social media), the survey explored the following themes – perceived value and expectations of care, level of sincerity and the degree of care in good times such as new job, promotion, engagement or new-born baby as well as unfortunate events such as job loss and hospitalisation.
“Insurance has always been an industry dependent on demonstrating trust and care. After the pandemic, it has become even more pertinent to understand how it has changed the perception of showing and receiving care, both via in-person and digital means. When it comes to financial planning, it is a highly personal journey and we are always looking at ways to enhance our quality of engagement with customers and remain as a trusted partner to customers and the communities we serve”, said Dhiren Amin, Chief Customer Officer, Income.
Key findings:
Varying expectations in showing and receiving care most prominent amongst Gen Zs.

- In the event of job loss where a friend or family members shares about a job loss on social media, Gen Zs and millennials displayed a pronounced difference in showing and receiving care. In showing care, ‘Sending a Text Message’ ranked top for Gen Zs (37%) and Millennials (34%) followed by ‘Call them’ (Gen Zs - 14%) (Millennials – 17%) as their most likely response when showing care to others. However, in receiving care when they post about a job loss on social media, Gen Z’s (19%) and Millennials’ (20%) preference is for their peers to proactively share their resumes or provide job referrals. However, amongst Baby Boomers, calling a family or friend (31%) would be the most preferred when showing care followed by sending a text message (24%)

- In a happy life event scenario such as a new job, promotion, engagement or new-born baby, Gen Zs indicated they were most likely to send a text message (44%) despite preferring to receive in-person visits (23%) from friends and loved ones. They were also less likely to prefer receiving phone calls (6%), alongside Millennials (8%), which contrasted with Baby Boomers, who ranked phone calls as their first preference, consistent for both showing and receiving care.

- In a grave situation such as hospitalisation, the most preferred when showing and receiving care is consistent across all group, with in-person visit as the first choice, followed by a text message. However, Gen Zs demonstrates the most varied expectations between showing care by visiting in-person (33%) and receive care in-person (58%). Surprisingly, Baby Boomers are most likely to visit friends and loved ones in the hospital (40%) but are less receptive to their close friends/relatives paying them a visit them during a hospital stay (24%)  

Baby Boomers feel that it is less sincere to show virtual care than it is to receive. 

- 57% of total respondents felt that care is not any less sincere when shown and received (66%) through emojis and/or text than when shown in-person, indicating some level of acceptance of digital interactions as normalised means of communicating care.

- Similarly, the same trend is seen amongst Gen Zs, Millennials and Gen Xs where less than half say that care is less sincere when shown (48%, 35%, 41%) and received (35%, 30%, 34%) through emojis and/or text.

- Over half of Baby Boomers (52%) agreed that care is less sincere when shown virtually via emojis and/or text. However, when it comes to receiving care, only 38% of Baby Boomers feel that virtual care is less sincere.  

Majority will make the effort to show care in-person to someone that matters.

- When asked about the perceived value of care when shown and received online vs. in-person, Singaporeans generally find in-person care more meaningful, with in-person care preferred when showing care (64%) and receiving care (62%).

- In keeping with the above sentiment, 76% of total respondents agreed that in-person care was more memorable and meaningful to them. This is consistent across the population.

- 86% of total respondents also indicated that they would make the effort to show care in-person to those that matters to them, as they think it will be more valued by the receiver. This is similar across Gen Zs, Millennials and Gen Xs, with a higher percentage at 92% amongst baby boomers.  

“In today’s digital-first era, while various forms of care are accepted, it is heartening to see that in-person care still plays a pivotal role in our society regardless of generations. This further supports Income’s purpose of being “people-first” and our unwavering commitment to provide real, tangible care and support to the community through our products, services, and initiatives”, added Dhiren.
The survey was conducted in two parts in partnership with YouGov, an international research data and analytics group headquartered in London. Adults aged 18 years and above participated in the survey across the island. Respondents were interviewed on two separate segments, each to a nationally represented sample, that focused on questions around showing care and receiving care. They were conducted separately to avoid priming respondents.