One-Fourth of Mobile Owners Want Opt-In Cell Alerts

October 20, 2009

More than one-fourth (26%) of US cellphone-owning adults are at least somewhat interested in receiving location-based advertising specials, provided they are able to opt-in for such alerts, according to a study by 1020 Placecast and conducted by Harris Interactive.

The percentage of those willing to receive such opt-in alerts is higher among younger respondents, the research found. Four in 10 cellphone owners between ages 18-34, and 33% of 35-44 year-olds are interested as well. Older respondents in the sample pulled the total number down.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults measured cellphone owner preference levels and receptivity for opt-in mobile marketing messages from brick-and-mortar businesses. It found that only 1% cell phone owners currently receive alerts about sales at their favorite establishments on their phones.

Additional findings from the survey:

  • Men are more interested in receving such specials than women, with 51% of cellphone-owning men ages 18-34, and 34% of women in the same age group saying they are at least somewhat interested in receiving opt-in shopping alerts on their cell phones.
  • Among cell phone owners in households with children under 18, 37% are at least somewhat interested in
    receiving opt-in alerts on their mobile phones. This number rises to 44% in households with children under age 6.
  • Of those interested in receiving alerts, 53% would be at least somewhat interested in being notified about restaurant specials around them. In general, food, entertainment and consumer products top the list of categories in which respondents are most interested:


A study from earlier this year by Mobilize Systems confirmed this preference for receiving food offers via mobile. It found that consumers in the UK who have redeemed discounts and coupons via their cellphone prefer to receive offers for cookies, chips, candy and other snack items rather than necessities such as toilet paper and soap.

Reaching Impulse Buyers

The survey also found that marketers have a substantial opportunity to influence impulse purchasers. About nine in 10 US adults have made an impulse purchase when they were out shopping in a store based on a sale or special going on around where they were.

Moreover, nearly one-fourth of cellphone-owning adults (22%) make this type of impulse purchase at least once per week or more often.


Among women with cell phones between ages 18-44, 27% report making at least one impulse purchase a week; among men 18 -34, this number rises to 31%, the study found.

“Opt-in mobile marketing has an enormous potential if done responsibly and is specifically focused on the stores/restaurants that matter to each consumer,” said Alistair Goodman CEO of 1020 Placecast. “There is an opportunity to design an opt-in service for consumers that alerts them about the brands they are interested in when they are near that brand’s physical location.”

About the survey: This survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of 1020 Placecast from July
20-22, 2009 among 2,029 adults ages 18+, of whom 1,725 own a cell phone. This online survey is not based on a probability sample

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