Texters Young, Culturally Diverse, Online Spenders

November 24, 2008

Adults in the US who use the text-messaging feature on their cell phone are 49% more likely than the average American to be between age 18-24, 14% more likely to be Hispanic and 24% more likely to be African American, according to (pdf) a survey from Scarborough Research.

The study also found that El Paso, Texas is the top US city for text messaging, with 57% of all adult cell-phone subscribers (age 18+) there reporting they use the text-messaging feature on their cell phone, compared with 48% of adult subscribers nationally.


Other leading markets for text messaging include Salt Lake City, Dallas and Memphis, Tenn., where 55% percent of cell subscribers use text-messaging.

Fort Myers, Fla., Charleston, W.Va., and Grand Rapids, Mich. are the local markets least likely to text message. Only 36% percent of Fort Meyers and Charleston cellular subscribers text, as do 35% of those in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Texter Demographics:

Scarborough points to the youthful, multi-cultural texting demographics as a likely reason why El Paso, Salt Lake City, Dallas and Memphis are the top text messaging markets. El Paso and Dallas both have Hispanic compositions that are well above average. Further, Salt Lake City and El Paso are top markets for 18-24 year old adults, and Memphis is a leading city for African-Americans.

Other key characteristics of texters:

  • They are among the country’s highest spenders on cellular services. On average, they spend $87 on their monthly cellular bill. In contrast, all cellular subscribers spend an average of $75 monthly.
  • They are 46% more likely than all cellular subscribers to typically spend $150 or more on cellular service monthly and are 12% more likely to plan to switch services.
  • They use a wide variety of phone features – such as picture messaging, streaming video and email -at a rate higher than that of the average cell user.
  • They are avid technology shoppers and are more likely than the average cell-phone subscriber to live in a household that owns – or plans to buy – a wide variety of hi-tech items, from HDTVs to MP3 players to video game systems.
  • They most often shop at Best Buy for audio-video purchases: 39% of Texters live in a household that shopped this retailer during the past year vs. 27% of all consumers nationally.
  • Other leading stores for Texter households include Wal-Mart and Target. 35%? of Texters live in a household that shopped Wal-Mart for tech items during the past year, while 20% shopped Target.
  • They are leading online spenders. One-fifth (20%) of Texters spend more than $1,000 online annually, vs, 17% of all cellular users.
  • Internet applications permeate all aspects of their lives, from household tasks (such as bill paying) to entertainment (such as downloading movies or TV programs) to interaction (such as blogging and downloading a wide variety of content).
  • Texters are active, on-the-go consumers. They are 37% more likely than all cellular subscribers to have played basketball (as a leisure activity) during the past year; 29% more likely to have gone jogging/running; 29% more likely to have played tennis, and 23% more likely to have practiced yoga.
  • Texters are 12% more likely to have attended a professional sports event, and 57% more likely to have gone to an R&B, rap or hip-hop concert during the past year.

“Text messaging could be largely disproportionately appealing to marketers because it delivers a young, multicultural audience,” said Gary Meo, SVP, digital media services, Scarborough Research. “Additionally, texts can provide a very locally targeted vehicle for marketers wanting to reach people in the right place at the right time, ready to make a purchase. Texting is becoming a ubiquitous cell phone function.”

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