These are some of the results of a special analysis of four surveys conducted online between October 2007 and January 2008 by Harris Interactive. In total 9,132 adults were surveyed. This data was then weighted where necessary to bring it into line with the total population.
Specifically, the research finds that:
Three-quarters (75%) of U.S. adults are using multiple approaches to making telephone calls. This is a substantial increase from 67 percent in October - December 2006.
The Demographic Profile of "Cell Phone Only" Users:
Consistent with their findings last year, those who use a cell phone as their only telephone service tend to be younger than the general population - in fact, about half (49%) are between the ages of 18 and 29. This percentage has decreased from 2006, when 18 to 29 year olds made up 55 percent of the cell phone only population, as older individuals become somewhat more comfortable with using a cell phone as their only type of telephone service.
Additionally, as compared to the general population, cell phone only users are:
Changes in the demographic profile of cell phone only users, compared to 2006
The profile of those who use a cell phone as their only telephone service remained quite stable compared to last year. However, there were some minor changes, which are as follows:
Comparing The Harris Poll to National Health Interview Survey
The Centers for Disease Control recently released the preliminary results from its January to June 2007 National Health Interview Survey. This large, respected survey is conducted in-person continuously throughout the year to collect information on health status, health-related behaviors and health-care utilization. In addition, this survey includes information about household telephones and wireless or cell phone usage.
Even though The Harris Poll was conducted using a different method (online) than the NHIS (in person), the results are statistically similar on many measures. Note that:
The two studies diverge in their findings with regard to some groups:
Those who use a cell phone as their only telephone service account for just 14 percent of the total population of US adults, and this proportion is on the rise. Moreover, this group has distinct demographic characteristics. In particular, 18 to 29 year olds - an important demographic group for many companies - account for about half of those who indicate using cell phones as their only telephone service, reducing the likelihood of reaching this group via traditional telephone surveys. While these young adults continue to be the group most likely to use a cell phone as their only phone, older adults, and those with household income of $75,000 or more, now account for greater proportions of those who use a cell phone only, compared to 2006.
It will be important to continue to monitor the size and demographic make-up of the cell phone only population in order to make knowledgeable choices about the most appropriate mode and sample sources for survey research, particularly when 18 to 29 year olds are a key component.
There are two implications to this research.
First, new technologies are often first adopted by younger segments. However, the rapid adoption rates we are seeing here will likely reshape the entire communications landscape within the next decade. Second, the fact that so many 18 to 29 years are only using cell phones and the Internet has important implications for companies and other organizations that are trying to communicate with this important segment of the population. This also hold true with those who conduct survey research who have relied on traditional methods (i.e., telephone landlines) for reaching this group. The survey research and marketing industries need to recognize that the Internet and cell phones, not landlines, are likely to be the wave of the future for contacting this age group.
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