Infobip Releases 30th Anniversary of the SMS Report

From Gen Z to Boomers, new research from Infobip dials into the texting (and sexting) habits of Americans

Infobip, a global leader in omnichannel communications, announced new data from its 2022 “30th Anniversary of the SMS” survey, which sheds light on how, where and when Americans are communicating with each other.

The report was commissioned to commemorate the anniversary of the first text message, sent on Dec. 3, 1992, by Neil Papworth, a software programmer from the U.K. who had been working as a developer and test engineer to create a short message service (SMS). That very first text simply said, “Merry Christmas.” In the three decades that ensued, SMS has exploded in popularity, and today, the humble text message has emerged as the go-to form of communication for billions of people and an ever increasing number of businesses.

Making the vast majority of this messaging possible, Infobip is the biggest chat and text communications player in the world. With hundreds of billions of messages going through its platform each year, the communications as a platform company (CPaaS) reaches more than 70% of the mobile phones across the globe.

Polling more than 1,000 consumers across the U.S., Infobip’s survey found that Americans would rather communicate via SMS, Whatsapp or another form of instant messaging (41%) than a phone call (24%). This trend was even more apparent among younger respondents — with approximately half of Gen Zers (48%) and millennials (53%) preferring messaging over calling, and Americans having fully embraced the text message as an integral tool of daily life.

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“As the way we communicate evolves, we are seeing more engagement between consumers and businesses. In the future, consumers will be increasingly connected to the brands they love, as businesses continue to meet people where they are — on their phones.”

Texting etiquette? Rewriting the rules of communication
Where are our manners? The survey found that when it comes to text messaging, for many respondents, no place or occasion was off limits. In fact, even the open road is fair game, with more than half (52%) of millennials admitting to the dangerous habit of texting while driving, compared to 40.7% of Gen Xers, and about 30% of baby boomers and Gen Zers.

Other surprising stats about when and where people are texting include:

  • More than a third of the respondents (36.9%) confessed to texting during a work meeting, with millennials being the biggest offenders (47.3%).
  • Nearly half of millennials (45%) have texted while drunk and sent a message they regret.
  • A significant portion of millennials (36%) and Gen Zers (30.8%) have texted at a wedding.
  • A surprising amount of millennials (26.8%) reported texting at a funeral.
  • A majority (55.8%) of respondents said they send the most texts in the afternoon.
  • More than any other generation, a solid majority of millennials (57.9%) are purposely leaving messages on read (ignoring messages once they have read them and not sending a response), followed by Gen Zers (48.7%), Gen Xers (46.9%) and baby boomers (38%).

With 27.5% of respondents checking their text messages within one minute, and 40% checking them within one to five minutes, it’s clear that we are a nation of texters.

Americans’ love affair with the text message
Instant gratification is just an SMS away, as the survey found that sexting — sharing sexually explicit messages or images through electronic means, cell phones in particular — is a popular pastime for many Americans. In fact texting is an important part of romance for a solid majority of millennials (63%) and Gen Zers (61%) who have sent a sext message. The numbers decline among Gen Xers, with less than half (46%) fessing up to sexting and only a small subset (14%) of baby boomers sending salacious SMS messages.

Other racy replies from respondents include:

  • Most men (52%) have sent a sext message, while far fewer women (38%) have sexted.
  • Nearly half of Gen Zers (45%) have been dumped over text, compared to 38% of millennials, 12% of Gen Xers and 4% of baby boomers.
  • 27.6% of men and 18.8% of women have been dumped via text messaging.
  • Over a quarter (26%) of millennials have received a marriage proposal via text, compared with 17% of Gen Zers, 6% of Gen Xers and 1% of baby boomers.
  • 56.3% of respondents said they text their friends more than their partner/love interest.

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Hold the phone! Communication preferences among the generations
Our phones have become our primary source for information, relationship building, banking, shopping, interacting with brands and a host of other daily activities. The survey found that phone preferences and messaging must-haves break down along generational lines.

  • Gen Z is the iPhone generation, with an overwhelming majority (71.8%) citing it as their favorite phone to text on. Nearly half of millennials (45.5%) feel that way about the iPhone.
  • Gen Xers (56.9%) and baby boomers (55.6%) favor the Galaxy.
  • The BlackBerry is officially DOA with a mere 5% or less across every generation preferring it for texting.
  • When asked what their favorite visual to text is, approximately a third of Gen Zers (34.6%) and millennials (32.2%) chose emojis, while even greater numbers of Gen Xers (44.5%) and baby boomers (42%) favorited emojis over gifs, memes, screenshots, photos and videos.

When asked how they prefer to receive marketing communications from their favorite brands, a majority across the generations chose email, with text messaging coming in second. Unsurprisingly, the demographics skewed younger for those who preferred to communicate with brands via messaging, with 33% of Gen Zers and 32.7% of millennials embracing the concept.

Conversational messaging will continue to be the way of the future
“The findings show that SMS and other chat and messaging options are the most effective means of communication at our fingertips,” said Silvio Kutić, co-founder and CEO of Infobip. “As the way we communicate evolves, we are seeing more engagement between consumers and businesses. In the future, consumers will be increasingly connected to the brands they love, as businesses continue to meet people where they are — on their phones.”

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