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SMS conversations valued the same as phone calls: study

Forty-eight percent of consumers ages 18-24 say that a conversation relayed over SMS is just as meaningful as a phone call, according to a new study from Experian Marketing Services.

With consumers relying on SMS as a communication channel, the study brings up big implications on how marketers can target mobile users. The Simmons National Consumer Study also looks at how often consumers send SMS messages.

?Usage has become a primary mode of communications amongst younger consumers, with more than 48 percent of 18-24 year olds indicating that texting is as meaningful as a traditional telephone conversation,? said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Experian Marketing Services, Costa Mesa, CA.

?Not all consumers are created equal in the mobile arena,? he said. ?Marketers should focus on their target market by age and implement mobile and text-based campaigns where appropriate.? 

Mobile opportunity
Similarly to the 18-24 demographic surveyed, 47 percent of consumers aged 25 ? 34 years old said that they agreed to the statement, ?Texting is just as meaningful to me as an actual conversation with the person on the phone.?

The percentage dips with older consumers though. For example, 37 percent of consumers aged 35 ? 44 years old said that SMS is as meaningful as a voice call. Twenty-eight percent of users surveyed aged 45 ? 54 years old. Only 15 percent of consumers aged 55 years or older agreed to the statement.

The research found that 95 percent of consumers talk on their mobile devices during a typical week. Fifty-nine percent of the same group text.

In the 18-24 demographic, 89 percent of consumers talk on the phone and 85 percent send SMS messages.

SMS blast
According to the study?s findings, smartphone owners aged 18-to-24 send 2,022 mobile text messages each month. Additionally, these users receive 1,831 texts a month.

Again, as age goes up, the number of text messages drops by approximately 40 percent per age bracket.

Smartphone owners aged 25-34 years old for example send 1,110 monthly texts and receive 1,130 messages.

Consumers aged 55 years or older send 247 text messages a month and receive 244 messages.

This skew in SMS messages for younger consumers lowers the amount of time spent talking on the phone.

For instance, the 35-44 age bracket in the sample made 134 outbound calls a month and received 81 calls.

On the other hand, 18-25 year olds received 64 incoming phone calls and made 119 per month.

?There is a strong negative correlation between age and number of text messages sent and received,? Mr. Tancer said.

?That being said, we are starting to see text activity ? albeit small ? in the older age demographics,? he said.

?Marketers should count on mobile's influence in online and offline purchases to continue to grow going into 2013, translating into increased showrooming activity as well as growth in mobile research and purchase activity.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York