Young Consumers Want Cell Phone Features

Young Consumers Want Cell Phone Features

Consumers in the 18-to-34 age group most desire extra cell phone features at a rapidly growing rate, according to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch.

Half of Young Consumers Want Mobile Web
Slightly more than half (51.4%) of consumers age 18-34 wanted internet access on their cell phones in January 2010, up 15% from 44.6% in October 2009. This compares to 47% of 35-to-54-year-olds, up an even more impressive 28.7% from October 2009.

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Overall, 41.5% of consumers age 18 and older wanted mobile phone-based web access in January 2010, up 21% from 34.3% in October 2009. Low results in the 55 and older age group (25.3% in January 2010) brought down the overall average, although this demographic still showed 18.2% growth from 21.4% in October 2009.

Mobile Email Has Similar Results
Results in responses to a question about having email access on their cell phones were similar. Almost the same percentage of 18-to-34-year-olds (51.1%) wanted email access on their cell phones in January 2010, up 18.3% from 43.2% in October 2009. Among 35-to-54-year-olds, 48.3% wanted cell phone-based email access in January 2010, up 11.8% from 43.2% in October 2009.

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Overall, 42.6% of consumers age 18 and older wanted email on their cell phones in January 2010, a 19.7% increase from 35.6% in October 2009. Consumers age 55 and older were laggards in this area, too, with 27.6% wanting email access in January 2010. However, this figure was a dramatic 27.8% increase from October 2009, although it was about equal with the July 2009 rate of 27%.

Younger Consumers Switch Providers at Much Higher Rate
One area where 18-to-34-year-olds clearly outpace their older counterparts is switching cell phone providers. Fourteen percent of consumers in this demographic had switched cell phone provider in the past year in January 2010, up a modest 3.7% from October 2009.

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While this figure is low, it is still much higher than that in any other age demographic. Overall, 10% of consumers age 18 and older had switched cell phone providers in the past year in January 2010, up 3% from 9.7% in October 2009. This figure was brought down by both 35-to-54-year-olds, who switched providers at a rate of 9.4% in January 2010, up 1.3% from 9.3% in October 2009; and those 55 and older, who switched at a rate of 6.8% in January 2010 and 6.6% in October 2009 (3% increase).

Nine in 10 Adults Own Cell Phone
Overall, 87.5% of consumers age 18 and older owned a cell phone in January 2010, up 1.4% from 86.3% in October 2009. Interestingly, although 18-to-34-year-olds owned cell phones at the highest rate in January 2010 (90.1%), this represented a 0.3% drop from 90.4% in October 2009. Ownership rates among 35-to-54-year-olds (88.3% in January 2010, 86.3% in October 2009) were virtually identical to those among all adults.

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Even consumers age 55 and older were not far off from the average in this category (83.9% owned a cell phone in January 2010, up 1.8% from 82.4% in October 2009).

Other Findings

  • Cameras (59%), text messaging (55.6%) and calendars (42.7%) were also highly desired cell phone features among all adults.
  • Among all adults who switch cell phone service providers, 41.3% say pricing/value is their top reason, with other important factors including coverage (31.6%) and plan options (22.1%).
  • Among adults 55 and older who switch cell phone service providers, top reasons are pricing/value (41.3%), coverage (28.9%) and customer service (17.9%).

Wireless-only Households Increase
The number of American homes with only wireless telephones continues to grow, according to preliminary results of a July-December 2009 Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). One of every four American homes (24.5%) had only wireless telephones during the last half of 2009-an increase of 1.8 percentage points since the first half of 2009. In addition, one of every seven American homes (14.9%) had a landline yet received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones.

About the Data: A trend analysis of the BIGresearch Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey of 9,578 consumers was compiled for the National Retail Federation.