What’s Your Cell Number?
The trend of decreasing telephone landlines has begun to affect the market research industry and limit the ways we are able to reach respondents. With so many options for cellular phones available, it makes sense for people to abandon their landline. Cell phone plan prices continue to drop – Boost Mobile now even offers to drop subscribers’ rates by $15 per month after a year and a half of on-time payments. There are also programs available, such as Lifeline and Link Up, which offer government assistance on wireless bills to low income consumers.
Tech News Daily published an article with interesting figures on landline vs. wireless telephone usage. In a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics with 21,000 American families, they found that one out of every four American families does not own a landline phone. The study also showed that almost 50% of 25 year olds did not live in a house with a landline and that the majority of cell phone users were under 40 yrs. old. These figures can be disturbing for market research companies who conduct telephone surveys since most of their sample will likely be older people.
What are Market Researchers Saying?
In an article posted on research-live.com titled “Do phone surveys have a future”, the author stated that “from the 1950s to the 1990s randomly composing a phone number and calling it provided a true probability sample of the US population. But, thanks again to those cord cutters, that Golden Age has ended.” AAPOR (The American Association of Public Opinion Research) published a report addressing decreasing landlines. They feel that random digit dialing (RDD) phone sampling has been threatened due to non-coverage bias and have been exploring the use of RDD cell phones surveying.
Market researchers everywhere are feeling the effect and here at The Olinger Group, we have recently worked on a project where this trend of declining landlines affected our sample – causing families with children to be greatly underrepresented. In our case, we were able to purchase more sample and specify that we needed families with children and so we were able to remedy any imbalance in the sample. But what if you don’t have the time or budget to allow for that? Telephone surveys are one of the most effective ways to reach small populations. If they disappear, it will be a challenge for all market researchers and buyers to adapt.
Stacy Martinez, Project Manager