Global: As consumers reject unknown numbers, is telemarketing dead?
February 1st, 2022, Janice Fernandes

Global: As consumers reject unknown numbers, is telemarketing dead?

For many people, a call from an unknown caller is an invitation to mute their ringer. But how often do consumers answer these calls? And how reliable is this channel for marketers trying to reach out to consumers?

Using new YouGov data, from across 18 global markets, we can say that around a quarter of consumers overall never answer calls from unknown numbers (26%). However, the most common answer is ‘not often’ with nearly two in five consumers saying the same (42%).

Analysing each market individually, ‘not often’ continues to be one of the more common choices. The online Indonesian community has the highest share of consumers who don’t answer these calls often (57%). Around half of the Polish and Chinese consumers also choose ‘not often’ (53% and 50% respectively).

Nearly two in five consumers in the US say they never answer unknown calls (41%), while 35% don’t answer these calls often. When compared with Britons, the proportion is almost the opposite with 40% picking ‘not often’ and slightly more than a third saying they never answer (32%) an unrecognized number.

Consumers in China are among the least likely to pick ‘never’ (10%), while almost half of them pick ‘not often’ (50%).

Fewer than one in ten consumers from most of the 17 markets are likely to always answer these phone calls. However, consumers in UAE and India are much more tolerant with two in ten saying the same (23% and 22% respectively).

A notable proportion of nearly one in five global consumers have picked ‘often’ (19%). Consumers in India (32%), China (31%), UAE (29%) and Hong Kong (29%) significantly over-index the other markets. On the other hand, Australians (14%) and Americans (13%) are among the least likely to say they often answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize.

When analysed demographically, age is seen as an influencing factor between consumers choosing to answer or ignore an unknown caller. Overall, the younger generation is more likely to answer phone calls than the older generation (22% of 18-24-year-olds vs. 15% of 55+). And older generations are more likely to never answer these calls (34% of 55+) compared to those aged between 18 and 24 years (19%).

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Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 511 and 2,172 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in December 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.