For several months I have been threatening to disconnect our home land line. All 6 members of the Bryson household have a cell phone and I found myself answering the “home phone” on a regular basis when the call was not for me. Finally, in December, the Bryson’s became a wireless-only family. Now we save the monthly cost of our telephone bill and I don’t have to answer the phone unless someone wants to reach me personally.
Apparently, the Brysons are part of a massive trend that will change the face of the research industry. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that another 2.5% of American households are now without land lines making 22.7% of all American households wireless only. At this rate, in 11 years less than 50% of American households will have a “home phone” land line. My guess is that this trend will accelerate and we are more like 5 years away from that reality.
As we enter this next decade, the research industry must resolve this problem. Will we depend on mobile phone panels to fulfill our research needs? Will we migrate all research to online or in-person and abandon the concept of telephone interviews altogether? Before you say “no way” consider the plight of door-to-door interviewing which was a research staple in the 1950s and 1960s. Or, will we find a “third way?”
The telephone we know as a research tool is becoming extinct. Individuals now carry personal communications and information devices with them 24/7. No longer do we simply call a publicly-listed household and ask for the decision marker. We must have an individual’s personal number, have permission to use it and have a relationship with that individual that leads to engagement.
In 2010, you can no longer reach the “Bryson household.” You may call any of us…but you have to find our number first and give us a reason to talk to you. For telephone researchers, the “Bryson Household” ceased to exist in 2009.