Email by the Numbers: What Do Consumers Think?

Sometimes, the numbers speak for themselves. This week, I’ve got some very interesting findings on email usage and its role in our lives. America Online graciously supplied us with specific information from “The America Online/RoperASW Cyberstudy 2001.”

This year’s study presents compelling evidence that the Internet has become central to people’s lives and that email is rapidly approaching the telephone as the preferred way people stay in touch and communicate with each other at work and between friends and family.

The cyberstudy is the fourth in a series of reports examining the impact of online use on people’s everyday lives. It also explores the fundamental changes the Internet has had on society and the ways people expect the Internet to transform their lives in the future.

RoperASW conducted the phone survey with a sample of 1,001 adult home Internet/online subscribers between August and November last year.

Here are some samples of the research related to email usage, attitudes, and trends.

Question One

“If you had to be stranded alone on an island for an extended period of time, would you prefer to have a telephone, a television, or a computer connected to the Internet? Assume you could only have one.”

  • 66 percent said they’d choose the computer connected to the Internet.

  • 25 percent said they’d choose the telephone.

  • 8 percent said they’d choose the television.

  • 1 percent don’t know/refused to answer.

Question Two

“Please indicate whether you prefer electronic mail, the telephone, or regular postal mail?”

  • 46 percent said email.

  • 35 percent said telephone

  • 14 percent said regular postal mail.

  • 3 percent said they don’t know.

  • 2 percent said it depends.

Question Three

“How many times a week do you do each of the following activities? Your best estimate is fine.”

  • Respondents said they brush their teeth 14.5 times a week (that’s interesting!).

  • Respondents said they check email 13.1 times a week.

  • Respondents said they go to the grocery store 2.2 times a week.

  • Respondents said they use the ATM machine 1.4 times a week.

Question Four

“For each of the following items, please indicate whether you prefer electronic mail, the telephone, or regular postal mail.”

  • One-third prefer to communicate with their friends via email rather than by phone (56 percent) or postal mail (8 percent).

  • 22 percent prefer email when communicating with family.

  • In both cases, the majority of online consumers prefer to use the telephone to hear the voices of their friends and family members.

Question Five

“In the future, what do you think will be considered the more important product of the 20th century: the computer, the television, or the telephone?”

  • 84 percent said the computer.

  • 9 percent said the telephone.

  • 5 percent said television.

  • 2 percent said they don’t know.

Question Six

“Have you ever sent or received an email invitation to a social event with friends or family?”

  • 50 percent said no.

  • 49 percent said yes.

  • 1 percent said they don’t know.

Food for thought, isn’t it? Drop me an email with your thoughts about these findings. I always love to hear from you!

Best regards,


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