Text the Preferred Channel for Millennials to Talk to Brands, US Study Reveals

By Paul Skeldon, Internet Retailing

Oft-overlooked ‘boring’ text messaging is the number one choice of communications channel between millennials and brands – and vice versa – a study of US youngsters has found.

Research by OpenMarket, of 500 US shoppers aged 18 to 34, finds that while 72% of millennials note they text 10 or more times a day and 31% that they text more than 50 times a day, the leading factor in millennials’ preferences for texting is its ability for two-way communication with businesses, an aspect that provides convenience, speed, and ease of use.

As a follow-up to OpenMarket’s first millennial survey earlier this year, this new research aimed to understand not only what communication method millennials prefer, but also why and how they are using the channel with businesses.

The results revealed that the mobile-friendly age group is highly accessible to businesses through SMS, with over 83% of millennials polled citing they open a text within 90 seconds of receiving it.

In addition, 60% of millennials want to be able to text their preferred businesses, but currently they’re only receiving five or fewer messages a week from companies, with 20% noting they don’t receive any texts from business at all.

The survey also reveals key customer engagement opportunities for companies to leverage with SMS. Nearly 50% of millennials polled said they would like to receive fraud alerts from their financial service providers (only 19% currently are).

When it comes to real-time communication, 80% of millennials would prefer to text a company’s 1-800 customer service line versus dialing direct and waiting on hold.

“The goal of this survey was to dive deeper into the mobile-millennial mindset and learn not only why this age group prefers text messaging as their main communication tool for business interactions, but at what level they are looking to engage,” says Jay Emmet, general manager for OpenMarket. “These results show that the capabilities of SMS are very prevalent with millennials, who desire more opportunities to communicate through texting, including more personal two-way interactions. Businesses need to further harness the ubiquity of SMS to realize better overall engagement and customer loyalty with the millennial generation.”

The survey goes on to find that texting is the #1 preferred channel of notifications from businesses, with email coming in a close second, and voice a distant third. Social media channels aren’t a significant factor for business-to-millennial communications as of yet. In fact, postal mail has a higher preference than Twitter and Facebook.

Millennials also prefer to receive texts from businesses for appointment reminders (62%), delivery notifications (59%) and payment reminders (48%). However, currently, less than half of millennials actually receive appointment and payment reminders from business—signaling an engagement opportunity for companies.