1 in 5 (44.6 Million)* American Adults Plan to Communicate with Loved Ones Abroad this Holiday Season, According to Survey From Rebtel

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New Poll from Harris Interactive Shows A Breakdown of U.S. Holiday Communication Methods and Differences Between Men and Women When Reaching Out to Loved Ones Living Abroad

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“Our findings show that almost two out of five American adults (39%) have loved-ones living abroad this holiday season,” said Andreas Bernstrom, CEO of Rebtel.

Rebtel, the world’s second largest VoIP company after Skype, today announced new results from a recent research study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Rebtel. The study was conducted from November 18-22, 2011 and gathered responses from more than 2,000 U.S. adults, with the intention of showing the frequency and means of communication between American adults and their loved ones living abroad during the holiday season.

According to the report, online women who plan to communicate with loved ones who are abroad over the holidays are more likely than men to use free services such social networking sites to do so (47% vs. 34%) and more than twice as many U.S. women indicated that they plan to spend less than last year (11% compared to 5% of men). Overall, the study shows that approximately 39% of Americans have loved ones living abroad, with nearly one in five (19%), or 44.6 million American adults planning to communicate with their loved ones who are abroad over the holiday season.

The survey focused on four specific aspects related to the means of communication between Americans and their loved-ones living abroad during the holiday season (defined as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day):

  •     Expected number of people planning to communicate with loved-ones who are living abroad over the holidays.
  •     The methods, programs, applications or devices used by those who are planning to communicate with loved-ones abroad over the holidays.
  •     The amount of money Americans plan to spend on international communication over the holidays compared to last holiday season.
  •     The frequency of mobile application use to communicate with loved-ones abroad this holiday season compared to last holiday season.

Are Women Smarter Than Men When it Comes to Holiday Communications Spending?

According to the study, women are much heavier users of alternative methods of staying in touch over the holidays compared to men, and more than twice as many U.S. women than men indicated they plan to spend less money communicating with loved ones than last year:

  •     Among the 19% of the U.S. adult population that plans to communicate with loved ones abroad over the holiday season, 8% plan to spend less than last year, with more than twice as many women (11%) indicating this than men (5%).
  •     Among the 19% of the U.S. adult population that plans to communicate with loved ones abroad over the holidays, 23% plan to spend more money communicating than they did last year, with U.S. men being significantly more likely to indicate this than women (30% vs. 16%).
  •     Among the 19% of the U.S. adult population who plan to communicate with loved-ones abroad over the holidays, 69% plan to spend about the same amount of money as last year communicating with loved ones who are abroad, with no significant differences between women (73%) and men (66%).

When given the option to decide which types of communication methods would be used to stay in touch with loved ones abroad over the holiday season, men who planned to communicate with their loved ones who are abroad this holiday season were significantly more likely to prefer traditional methods, such as home phone/landline (51%) and email (76%). Surprisingly, half (50%) of U.S. women indicated that they planned to communicate with loved ones via social networking sites, compared to only 41% of U.S. men; furthermore, one third (33%) of women indicated that they planned to use video chat on their personal computer.

Regarding VOIP calling services, like Rebtel and Vonage, nearly three times more online men (11%) than online women (4%) indicated that they planned to use this method to stay in touch with loved ones abroad this holiday season. In terms of communicating via mobile applications (e.g., apps for Facebook, Skype, Rebtel, Kik, What’sApp) on their smartphone, tablet, or eReader, it should be noted that while online men and women plan to use that method about the same (15% and 16% respectively), 45% of online women plan to use mobile applications more than last year, compared to 18% of men.

Among the 19% of U.S. adults who indicated they plan to communicate with loved ones over the holiday season, here’s a break down of their communication preferences, as well as how the responses differed between male and female respondents:

Methods American Adults Plan To Use to Communicate with Loved Ones Abroad Over the Holiday Season:

Email: 71% (Men 76%, Women 64%)

Mobile Phone (using minutes through cell phone provider): 43% (Men 47%, Women 39%)

Home Phone (i.e., traditional landline): 44% (Men 51%, Women 36%)

Social Networking Sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) on their personal computer: 45% (Men 41%, Women 50%)

Txt Messaging (through cell phone service): 33% (Men 35%, Women 31%)

Video chat (e.g.,Skype) on their personal computer: 31% (Men 30%, Women 33%)

IM (e.g., AIM, Google Chat): 22% (Men 26%, Women 18%)

Mobile Applications (e.g., apps for Facebook, Skype, Rebtel, Kik, What’sApp) on their smartphone, tablet and/or eReader: 17% (Men 16%, Women 19%)

VoIP Service (e.g., Vonage, Rebtel) on their personal computer: 9% (Men 13%, Women 6%)

“Our findings show that almost two out of five American adults (39%) have loved-ones living abroad, and while men tend to prefer traditional methods of communication when it comes to staying in touch, women appear to be opting for alternative methods like social networks. I think the larger trend is that women are making smarter communication choices, which has the reciprocal affect helping them save money during a time of year where almost everyone can benefit from a little more cash in their wallet,” said Andreas Bernstrom, CEO of Rebtel.

Survey Methodology
Harris Interactive® fielded the study on behalf of Rebtel from November 18 – 22, 2011, via its Harris Poll QuickQuerySM online omnibus service, which interviewed a nationwide sample of 2,160 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Eric Gonzalez at eric@vscconsulting.com.

  • According to 2010 U.S. Census estimates, there are approximately 235 million adults living in America (119 million women and 116 million men). Total population is approximately 309 million, with an estimated 24% of the population less than 18 years old.

About Rebtel
Rebtel is the world’s second largest mobile VoIP company. Today, Rebtel is growing rapidly with more than 15 million callers and with a run rate of over 1 billion minutes per year. The company is on pace to hit $75 million in revenue run rate end of 2011. Rebtel users call through smartphone or desktop applications or any other phone to make free or cheap international calls using either data calls globally or one of the world’s largest local number network for calling from more than 50 Rebtel countries. For more information, or to start using Rebtel, go to http://www.rebtel.com

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Eric Gonzalez
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