B2B International
B2B International

January 23, 2007

One of the key elements of market research here at B2B International is being able to ask questions to the market. Without the market, we are nothing. A solid base of communication has always been through the use of phone lines that run into peoples homes and offices. However in the article below it outlines the current trend in America to do away with landline phones and only use a mobile. This article published in Research magazine has left people wondering if there will be a future for telephone interviewing?

Researchers cut off as US hangs up landlines for cell phones

Rise in homes without landlines speeds up • More than one in ten US homes are mobile only

A sharp rise in the number of people in the US living in homes without landline telephones has prompted concern among researchers about the future of phone surveys.

In the first half of last year, 12.5% of US households did not have a landline, up from 8.4% the year before, according to the US Department of Health’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). 10.5% of homes had only mobile phones, while 2% had no phone at all.

The percentage of households with no landline has more than doubled in three years from 5%, and the rate of increase is on the rise.

As phone surveys are conducted largely using landline numbers, there is concern that the rise in households without landlines could skew results. People who are younger, poorer, from ethnic minorities, and rent rather than own their homes, are more likely not to have landlines, and are therefore underrepresented in phone surveys.

Not only are people more reluctant to be surveyed on cellphones because of the cost and intrusion, there is also a law in the US prohibiting the use of auto diallers to call cellphones – technology used routinely to reach a random sample of landlines.

Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center said: “We know that the landline method is still getting us a good sample of the general public. But businesses and researchers that are particularly interested in young people or minority populations are more worried now that the cellphone phenomenon may be beginning to introduce a bias, and are taking steps to try to deal with it.â€?

A 2005 study conducted by Arbitron showed that non-landline users did not significantly affect survey results. The study assumed that 10% of the population were cellphone only – an exaggeration at the time, but now very close to the real figure.

Ed Cohen, Arbitron’s vice president of domestic research, said: “It certainly raises concerns. There’s a group of people you’re not able to reach if you’re using a landline sample frame – which almost everybody does – and of course it skews younger because going cellphone only is pretty much an 18-34 phenomenon. The larger the percentage gets, the more likely it is that those people could cause differences in the estimates.â€?

Author: Robert Bain

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