Backpacks, Lunch Boxes and Cells?...Nearly Half of US Teens and Tweens Have Cell Phones, According to GfK NOP mKids Study

NEW YORK, March 9, 2005—GfK Technology (formerly NOP World Technology) today announced results of its mKids Study, revealing that cell phone ownership has topped 16 million among teens and tweens nationwide, with almost half (44%) of 10-18 year olds in the US owning a cell phone.

In its fifth wave of tracking teen cell ownership and use in the top 25 US markets, the study found that cell phones are the newest school accessory, with ownership among 12-14 year olds increasing from 13% in February 2002 to 40% in December 2004. In addition, the majority (73%) of 18 year olds own cell phones as well, a 15% increase from 2002, and three-quarters (75%) of 15-17 year olds also carry cell phones, up from 42% in 2002.

Teens and Tweens Offer Lesson in Commitment

Nationwide, 10-18 year old mKids are loyal at heart, as few are willing to change cell phone providers. Over three-quarters (77%) are still using their first provider, and only 11% are planning to switch in the next six months (even though 74% are aware they can take their number with them). In fact, plans to upgrade an existing cell phone are actually more common than switching providers (26% vs. 11%).

Among the small percentage who switched cell phone providers, top reasons were seeking "better reception" (20%), "lower costs" (19%) or "persuasion from parents" to switch providers (13%).

Can You Hear Me Now?...

Verizon leads the cell phone provider pack with 46% of US teens and tweens aware of the brand, closely followed by Cingular at 42%.

Total awareness of cell phone providers among teens and tweens is as follows:

Verizon 46%
Cingular 42%
Sprint 23%
AT&T 20%
T Mobile 14%
Nextel 11%
Virgin 8%
Cellular One 7%
Cricket 2%

"With its acquisition of AT&T Wireless, Cingular has a clear opportunity to catapult ahead of Verizon when it comes to brand recognition among teens and tweens," explains Ben Rogers, Vice President, GfK Technology. "It will be interesting to see how effectively 'The New Cingular' converts existing awareness of AT&T wireless to benefit its brand."

Cell Phones Not Just for Emergencies

The majority of mKids are most interested in multi-functioning cell phones, as 71% seek wireless phones that convert into mp3 players, and 70% of teens and tweens are interested in cells that transform into digital cameras.

"Teens and tweens are on the cutting edge of cell phone technology and are no longer excited by typical single-function cell phones," adds Rogers. "Since kids tend to stick with the same provider, it is crucial for carriers to offer affordable multi-function phones, as this may sway selection even more than the service itself."

About mKids...

mKids US is a syndicated research program conducted by GfK NOP (formerly NOP World) on cell telephone ownership and usage, brand affinities, entertainment habits and media consumption among American youth. 1,000 telephone interviews were conducted in each of five waves of interviewing. Wave 1-4 included 12-19 year olds in the top 25 DMAs, Wave 5 was expanded to include 10-18 year olds across the continental United States. Wave-to-wave trends include only those respondents with consistent base definitions.


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