The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) publishes the amount of time people spend on the telephone, on mail, and on email per day between 2003 and 2018. In terms of time spent on the telephone, the ATUS drills down to measure how much time a person spends talking to a salesperson or customer service representative a day. In terms of mail, the ATUS measures how much time a person spends collecting/reading mail or sending/receiving packages. Finally, the time spent on email includes time spent reading/sending email. Marketing campaigns can reach customers through each of these three channels. The question is, which marketing channel is actually growing.
The first step is to show whether or not the time spent on the telephone with a sales/customer service representative, on mail, and on email is changing over time. The goal of this first analysis is simply to show that time spent on the telephone is the only category for which time spent is not significantly decreasing over time. For this first analysis, I include those who spend zero minutes a day in the average amount of time spent on each activity, which drags the average down by a lot. (Subsequent analysis looks only at those who actually spend time, non-zero minutes, on each of these activities.)
Between 2003 and 2018, Figure 1 shows that a one year increase leads to, effectively, a zero change in time on the telephone. Furthermore, this near-zero effect is highly insignificant, which means the statistic is likely to be due to chance. Both mail and email show significant changes with a one year increase–albeit a small amount, -0.05 minutes and -0.03 minutes, respectively. The change is small, but significant.
|Figure 1. Regression of Minutes Spent on the Telephone (with Sales and Customer Service Represenatives), Mail, and E-mail on Year|
|Time on Telephone||-0.000787||0.0009147||-0.86||No|
|Time on Mail||-0.047344||0.0054472||-8.69||Yes|
|Time on E-mail||-0.033492||0.0064155||-5.22||Yes|
The next step is to look at the population that actually engaged in each activity–spending non-zero minutes in each marketing channel. The goal of this second analysis is to show that the amount of time spent on the telephone for those who actually engaged in this activity is actually increasing over time as opposed to mail and email, which show declines. The average non-zero minutes spent on the telephone with a sales/customer service representative was 19.48 minutes in 2003 and grew to 35.29 minutes in 2018. The growth trajectory is positive.
Figure 3 shows that the average non-zero minutes spent on mail has been decreasing over the years. The fitted line in the figure shows that there is a negative slope between 2003 and 2018. The average time spent on mail was 23.13 minutes in 2003 and 23.20 minutes in 2018, which suggests the trend is flat, but the fitted line documents the negative trajectory.
Figure 4 shows that the average non-zero minutes spent on email has been in decline. In 2003, the average time spent on email was 39.41 minutes a day. In 2018, the average time spent on email fell to 35.01 minutes a day. The fitted line in Figure 4 shows a steep decline.
To recap, the average minutes spent on the phone with sales/customer service representatives is not significantly declining. Furthermore, for those who have non-zero minutes on the telephone with these representatives, the average amount of time spent on the phone is on the rise. The next question is: Who are these people who spend time talking on the phone?
For those who spend time on the phone with sales and customer service representatives, men and women are about evenly split. Men spend an average of 24.03 minutes a day and women spend about 23.23 minutes a day. In terms of the age distribution, those 25 to 34 and those 65 and over spend the most time on the phone–over 26 minutes on average for both age groups. Turning to race, Blacks spend the most time on the phone out of all race categories at 28 minutes a day.
Those that are unemployed spend 33 minutes on the phone. Full time employees spend more time on the phone than part time employees at 21 minutes and 18 minutes a day, respectively. Those who earn a weekly wage between $631 and $960 spend 31 minutes on the phone. Those with no children under 18 spend 25 minutes on the phone. Marital status does not seem to impact time on the phone. Finally, those with an advanced degree spend the most time on the phone out of all educational categories at 29 minutes.
This analysis demonstrates that talking on the phone is a potential growth channel for marketing. The percentage of time spent on the phone with sales and customer service representatives is not significantly declining. Furthermore, the amount of time that people who spend (non-zero minutes) on the phone is on the rise. Finally, the demographics round out the picture of who this marketing channel feeds.