84% of Americans Would Rather Talk In Person Than on the Phone

August 28, 2012

ipsos-us-talk-in-person-vs-on-phone-august-2012.pngGiven the choice, 84% of Americans would rather have a conversation in person than on the phone, according to [pdf] August 2012 survey results from Ipsos. Compared to the results across 25 markets, in which 81% preferred to talk in person, the US is slightly above-average in this preference. Within the US, men are slightly more likely than women to prefer talking in person rather than over the phone (85% vs. 82%). With these strong preferences for in-person conversations, it’s no surprise that B2B exhibitors and attendees are seeing growing value from face-to-face interactions, particularly in-person sales calls, according to a recent CEIR study.

US Preferences Differ Along Age, Income, Education Lines

Details from the Ipsos report indicate that preferences for in-person versus phone conversations differ across some select demographics. 83% of Americans under 35 would choose to talk in person rather than on the phone, a figure that dips to 81% among the 35-49 set, and rises significantly to 86% among those aged 50 to 64. And Americans with a low household income show above-average preference for the phone (21%) compared to those with medium and high household income (both 16%).

There is a surprising gap between less-educated and highly-educated Americans. While 86% of those with low education prefer in-person conversation, just 78% of highly-educated Americans indicate the same.

These results, combined with July findings from Ipsos, show a strong preference for in-person communication, despite all the available mobile channels and social networks. Ipsos found that just 13% of 50-64-year-olds in the US are socializing more online than in the real world, and only 17% of 35-49-year-olds have shifted to primarily communicating with their friends over the internet. Unsurprisingly, the under 35 age group is the most likely to be socializing more online than in person, at 26%.

LatAm Strongly Prefers In-Person Conversation

Further details from the most recent Ipsos study indicate that on a regional basis, Latin America skews highest for in-person preference over phone conversations, at 90%. Asia-Pacific at 72% is lowest, with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) just behind, at 73%. Europe is 6% points above the global average, at 87%, while the Middle East and Africa are right on the average, at 81%.

Chinese Very Comfortable On Their Phones

Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Sweden all top the charts for in-person conversations, with 90% indicating this preference. On the other end of the spectrum, just 55% of Chinese prefer the same, followed by South Koreans (63%) and Indians (66%). Lower-income Chinese, at 50%, appear equally as comfortable talking on the phone as in person. In India, just 62% of those under 35 prefer to talk in person, compared to 83% of those aged 50 to 64.

The BRIC countries therefore include both the highest preference for in-person conversation (Brazil at 90%) and the lowest (China at 55%; India at 66%).

Other Findings:

  • Mexican men, at 95%, show an overwhelming preference for in-person conversation, and are 14.5% more likely to indicate this preference than Mexican women (83%). The results are similar in Argentina, where 94% of men prefer in-person conversation versus 86% of Argentinian women.
  • Brazilian chief income earners (95%) and executive decision makers (96%) skew among the highest world-wide in preference for in-person conversation.

About the Data: The Ipsos data is based on a survey of 12,500 consumers in 25 countries.

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