Number Of Cell Phone-Only Households Increasing

American consumers are continuing to cut the telephone cord. More than half (52%) of adults now live in households that have no landline telephones, according to GfK MRI’s “Survey of the American Consumer.” 

That number has doubled since 2010, when 26% of adults chose to go without land lines. The trend spans across demographics, with Millennials leading the way (71%, without land lines), followed by Generation X (55%) and Baby Boomers (44%). Even the proportion of senior citizens in cell phone-only households has increased four times since 2010 (to 23%). 

“It’s been a consistent process — it’s not like it happened abruptly,” Risa Becker, SVP of research operations at GfK MRI, tells Marketing Daily. “We’ve been tracking this for years, and the trend is going in one direction. We keep waiting for the plateau point, and we haven’t seen it yet.”



That plateau may yet come. More than half (55%) of consumers who have both a cell phone and a landline said they will keep the land line, no matter how much cell service improves. Yet 48% of people who have both say they often use their cell phones to make calls from home. 

Among ethnic and racial categories, two-thirds of Hispanic/Latino adults live without land lines, while Asian Americans, whites and African-Americans have roughly 50% incidence. 

Geographically, the smallest concentration of cell phone-only households is in the Northeast, with only 39% forgoing landlines. Becker attributed the lower incidence to the high prevalence of bundled television packages in the region, which include a land line service. (Some 57% of Northeast households have bundled packages, according to GfK). 

The increasing number of cell phone-only households could prove to be a challenge for marketers, as those without a fixed line can sometimes be more difficult to reach, Becker says. “This is bound to have an effect on marketers and researchers who need to connect with these populations.”

1 comment about "Number Of Cell Phone-Only Households Increasing".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 19, 2017 at 9:40 a.m.

    If I dial 911 with chest pain from a landline, even if I cannot speak the operator knows exactly where I am. But with E911, pinging my cellphone or referencing a directory may not be as fast. Seconds count, so I think I'll pay the extra for the privilege of getting nuisance calls from thoughtless marketers and robo-polling. Also, when power is out after a big storm, my landline still works without electricity.

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