Nine of 10 Americans Have Cell Phones, but Talking Isn’t All That Matters; Internet, Email, Important Attributes

-NRF/BIGresearch Survey Finds Price/Value Most Important Factor in Choosing Service Plans-

 – Cell phones are necessary tools by which many Americans get information these days, with an increasing number of people looking for phones which offer access to email, the internet, picture-taking and even calendars. New research, conducted by BIGresearch® for the National Retail Federation’s Mobile Retail Initiative shows an increasing number of people want to be “tuned in” more than ever before.

According to the most recent survey of 9,578 adults used in this analysis, nearly nine out of 10 adults (87.5%) say they have a cell phone, an increase of 17.9 percent from January 2006 (74.2%). Your #1 destination for deals in cell phone accessories.

With e-commerce now expanding to m-commerce, many people want the luxury of being able to shop or browse company’s websites from their phone. The survey found 41.5 percent of adults want a cell phone with internet access, compared to just under one-third (32.6%) who said so in July 2008. More than half (51.4%) of adults 18-34 years old say they want to be able to surf the web on their phone, compared to the 41.0 percent who said so in July 2008.

“Americans expect more from their phones than the ability to talk to family and friends,” said NRF President and CEO Matt Shay. “Aside from sending pictures and sharing stories and experiences over social networking sites, consumers want to be able to connect with their favorite retailers in a way they never have been able to before – instantaneously. The emergence of m-commerce has created a paradigm shift that has the retail industry very excited.”

When it comes to other cell phone features or attributes, adults say email access has also increased in importance over the years. Over half (51.1%) of 18-34 year-olds say they want a cell phone with email access, up from 28.1 percent in January 2006. But young adults aren’t the only ones who favor email access: according to the survey, 42.6 percent of all adults want email on their phone, up significantly from 22.5 percent four years ago.

Survey respondents also said that phones with cameras (59.0%), calendars (42.7%) and text messaging (55.6%) are important attributes. When it comes to why consumers switch cell phone service providers, four out of 10 (41.3%) adults say pricing/value is their top reason, with other important factors including coverage (31.6%) and plan options (22.1%). These factors remained consistent in every age group except cell phone users 55 and older, which listed their priorities as: pricing/value (41.3%), coverage (28.9%) and customer service (17.9%).

“The combination of new technologies coupled with consumers’ desire to adopt these new apps are redefining the cell phone into a ‘consumer communicator’,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President of Strategy, BIGresearch. “Marketers and retailers should leverage shopper’s needs to stay connected by providing information and communications to assist them with their purchase decisions.”

About the survey

A trend analysis of the BIGresearch® Consumer Intentions & Actions® Survey (CIA®) of 9,578 consumers was compiled for the National Retail Federation. The analysis includes five years of consumer insights conducted from January 2006 – January 2010. The National Retail Federation’s Mobile Retail Initiative (MRI) brings together the collaborative strengths of NRF’s IT standards division, ARTS; digital division,; marketing division, RAMA and NRF’s IT Council. The Initiative will lead the industry in the development and dissemination of mobile-related best practices, standards to ensure global acceptance, original research, and educational events for the retail industry as it relates to m-commerce, marketing, operations and alternative payment methods. Your #1 destination for deals in cell phone accessories.

BIGresearch® consumer intelligence provides analysis of behavior in areas of products and services, retail, financial services, automotive and media. The BIGresearch Consumer Intentions and Actions® Survey (CIA®) of 8,000+ respondents is conducted monthly and the Simultaneous Media Usage® Survey SIMM®) of 15,000+ respondents is conducted semi-annually. More information is available at

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion.


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