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SMS becoming prevalent among older generations: Study

Tekelec, a mobile messaging company, conducted a study that found SMS is reaching across all demographics and is now prevalent among older generations, not just young adults and teenagers.

Texting, what was once strictly an activity for the younger generation, has become trendy with adults over 45. Mobile is becoming more integrated into the everyday lives of consumers across continents and age groups.

?What?s most revealing to us is that 60 percent of over-45-year-olds ? a demographic thought to be SMS laggards ? say they?re just as likely to use SMS as they are to make voice calls,? said Ronald Cornelisse, senior manager of product marketing and mobile messaging at Tekelec, Amsterdam.

?The importance is that text messaging is becoming prevalent among older generations, changing everything from how operators market their plans to how advertisers can reach more consumers through the mobile channel,? he said. ?Brands will miss out if they only market their mobile campaigns to younger generations.?

SMS usage will expand in the older demographics as current prolific younger users age and bring their SMS familiarity and expectations with them and older generations will naturally use SMS to communicate with their younger family members, friends and coworkers. 

Five-hundred consumers in North America and Europe were surveyed by Tekelec regarding their SMS usage.

Ladies love SMS
More than 80 percent of the respondents said they believe they would get a quicker response from a text message than from an email or voice message.

SMS is more popular among women. Forty percent of female respondents described themselves as mainly a texter compared to 30 percent of men.

On a related note, 25 percent of women participate in television voting via SMS compared to 14 percent of men.

?We didn?t expect the gender gap the survey showed,? said Mr. Cornelisse. ?The benefits and uses of SMS are gender-neutral, so that disparity was unexpected.?

Mr. Cornelisse said the popularity of TV voting via SMS may be a reason why the survey found women use text messaging more than men.

Sixteen percent of respondents under 35 said they use SMS to vote on reality TV compared to 9 percent of 35-44 year olds, and 7 percent of consumer 45 and older.

According to the survey, 35-44-year-olds are the largest consumers of news and sports via text at 18 percent compared to 17 percent for those under 35 and 8 percent for those over 45.

Unstoppable growth
A majority of the under-35 crowd, 57 percent, said they send more than 30 text messages every week, as do 44 percent of 35-44-year-olds and 14 percent of consumers 45 and older. 

Text messaging is catching up to email as the preferred means of daily international communication.

Thirty-two percent of consumers across all age groups said they prefer SMS compared to the 33 percent who favor email.

Additionally, 32 percent of respondents said they believe their use of SMS will increase in the next 12 months.

Tekelec is predicting that SMS will grow the most around person-to-application, application-to-person and machine-to-machine communications. 

Mr. Cornelisse said person-to-person will be the foundation of SMS messages, but organizations are using texts in innovative ways, such as security systems that send customers updates when someone has entered their home.

?The immediacy of SMS cannot be underestimated,? Mr. Cornelisse said. ?Brands have a tremendous opportunity to tie text campaigns with tangible, near-term actions, and they can expect results across all age groups. 

?The risk, however, is that a poorly executed campaign could create a quick backlash,? he said.