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The 411 on 411
Posted: 21-Aug-2006 [Source: Tellme Networks]

[Tellme provides directory assistance (411) for Cingular and Verizon and has announced the results of a new study looking at the use of this service by mobile phone users.]

Mountain View, CA -- Tellme Networks, Inc., connecting people and businesses through search on the phone, today announced the results of a nationwide survey of U.S. adults about consumer phone behavior and attitudes. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, uncovers key generational differences and similarities in Directory Assistance use among Millennials (Age 18-28), GenXers (Age 29-40) and Boomers (Age 41- 60). The study shows that the businesses people search for on the phone -- from where to eat, to where to shop, to what to do -- clearly reflect the varied needs and tastes of different demographic groups and lifestyle segments. Yet, one passion that spans across all age groups is the desire for pizza, as pizza parlors topped the list of 411 restaurant requests.

According to the study, what's driving 411 calls today -- is actually driving! The study indicated that as consumers take advantage of mobile phones on a daily basis, they are becoming more reliant on the convenience and utility of 411 while in the car and on the go. The survey shows that half of adults who use Directory Assistance say they use it most often in mobile situations, and among the younger demographic mobile use is even higher, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults 18-28 using Directory Assistance most often when they're driving or on-the-go. Only 26% of the 411 users surveyed said they used directory assistance most often from home. Additional data reveals that women are more likely than men to turn to 411 when they need a listing. Nearly half (46%) of women use 411 at least once a month, versus 37% of men.

On-The-Go Features Offer Future Appeal

Consistent with the on-the-go lifestyle, the emerging services that directory assistance users say interest them the most include: searching for a business category and location (such as 'Chinese restaurants in Mountain View') (47%), receiving a text messaging of the listing (44%), and the ability to receive a text message with maps and directions of the location requested (42%). Interestingly, nearly 1 in 4 Millennials (22 %) say they are not familiar with 411, and another 21% say they are familiar with but have never used directory assistance services. Yet, this digital demo is likely to be the first in line for new, on-the-go directory features because the cell phone users in this age group are most likely to have used text messaging (79%), versus 65% of GenXers and 51% of Boomers.

What Are People Searching for on 411?

The listings people search for are a reflection of the lives they live. Among all adult 411 users, the most popular business listings requested from Directory Assistance are restaurants/bars (43 %) and retailers (36%).

However, Millennials are more likely than other demographic groups to turn to 411 for entertainment listings, including bars and restaurants, and movies. Women and GenXers used it as a shopping aide, as they are more likely to seek 411 listings for retail stores (42%). Finally, Boomers and men are more likely to use 411 as a convenient way for making travel arrangements, seeking listings for hotel/lodging and transportation services.

What's the 411 on What America is Eating?

The study shows that among the 411 restaurant requests, the convenience of pizza takeout makes pizza parlors the most popular. Interestingly, women who originate requests for pizza outnumber men by 3 to 2, with calls for the beloved pizza pie peaking at 4 p.m. on Fridays. Furthermore, GenXers are more likely than other demographic groups to seek heartier fare calling for listings for steakhouses (39%), Mexican food (34 %), and American/BBQ (32 %). Boomers revealed lighter and more diversified tastes with 46% calling for listings for Chinese or other Asian cuisines, and 23% searching for Seafood.

Alternatives to 411? Better Get Creative, or Call Mom

Surprisingly, the survey found that people had to get creative to find alternatives to 411 for getting the phone numbers they need when they are mobile. According to the study, the top alternatives for finding phone numbers needed while driving or on-the-go were calling a family member (58%), calling a friend (46%), actually stopping at a phone booth (29%), and calling a work colleague (27%). Some respondents revealed even more "creative" approaches, such as booting up their laptop computer in the car (7%), tearing a page out of a public phone book (7%) and driving around to find a wireless "hotspot" to access the Internet (5%). The study also reveals significant generational and gender differences in behavior in finding alternatives to directory assistance.

Furthermore, of those that resort to calling family when they don't use 411, Millennials are more likely to call their Mom or Dad (44%) (with a preference of 6 to 1 for calling Mom), Gen Xers call their spouse or significant other most frequently (39%) while Boomers are split between calling their spouse (31%) and their kids (12%) for help.

Survey Methodology:

The online study was conducted by Harris Interactive for Tellme Networks, Inc. between March 31 and June 7, 2006, among 1,425 U.S. adults age 18-60 who use a phone at home or at work (935 of the respondents were cell phone users). The questions in the survey cover the telephone and directory assistance usage patterns of Americans, and also take a look at generational and gender differences in phone usage and attitudes. Data were weighted to be representative of the total population of U.S. adults with phone access, on the basis of education, age/gender, ethnicity/race, region and propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 1,425, one could say with 95% probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2 percentage points. Sampling error for sub-samples will be higher and varied. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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