More Consumers Want Cell Phones with Internet Access, Email

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% from January 2006 (74.2%).

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% 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% 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% in January 2006. But young adults aren't the only ones who favor email access: according to the survey, 42.6% of all adults want email on their phone, up significantly from 22.5% 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."

[Source:  Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey.  BIGresearch/​National Retail Federation’s Mobile Retail Initiative. 17 Jun. 2010.  Web.  14 Jul. 2010.]