Online or offline: Uncovering state-by-state cell phone shopping preferences in the US
April 26th, 2023, Kineree Shah

Online or offline: Uncovering state-by-state cell phone shopping preferences in the US

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, consumer preferences for purchasing cell phones have become increasingly diverse. Some opt for the convenience and comfort of online shopping, while others prefer the hands-on experience of buying from brick-and-mortar stores. A third group, however, finds a balance by splitting their purchases between both channels. In light of the recent surge in 5G technology adoption and the highly anticipated launch of new flagship smartphones, we look into YouGov Profiles, an audience intelligence tool, to understand purchasing preferences. 

Two in five Americans prefer to purchase cell phones in-store (41%) while nearly a third (29%) opt for online buying. 16% of consumers exhibit a balanced preference between the two options. Dividing the data by age, Americans aged 55 and above (48%), as well as those in the 45-54 age group (41%), show a stronger preference for offline shopping. Meanwhile, among younger age groups, online shopping is more popular, with between a quarter and a third of respondents in the 18-44 age range reporting that they prefer to shop for mobile phones online (28-31%). 18-34 aged adults are more likely to be split between offline and offline shopping, with around one in five reporting this as their preferred method. Overall, the data suggests that there are clear differences in mobile phone shopping habits between age groups, with older Americans showing a greater preference for offline shopping.

Mobile shopping preferences vary by state of residence. Although companies are unlikely to market on a state-by-state basis. YouGov Profiles can provide a highly granular understanding of consumer preferences, as demonstrated by this data.

In several states, a significant proportion of consumers lean towards online shopping for their mobile devices and accessories. Montana tops the list with two in five (39%) of its residents opting for online purchases, closely followed by Utah (37%). One-third of Americans from the District of Columbia (36%), New Mexico (36%), Vermont (35%) and Georgia (34%) have the same preferences. It's interesting to note that these states, despite their geographical diversity, share a common trend in embracing the convenience of online shopping for their mobile needs.

On the other hand, there are states where consumers still prefer the offline experience when purchasing cell phones. Wisconsin (52%), Alaska (52%), Nebraska (50%), and Minnesota (50%) lead this category with half of their residents opting for brick-and-mortar stores. Several other states like South Dakota (47%), Iowa (46%), and Kentucky (45%) also show a strong inclination towards in-store buying, with two in five consumers choosing this option. It is evident that in these states, the hands-on experience and personal touch offered by offline retailers continue to hold sway over a considerable portion of the consumer base.

Another fascinating aspect of the data highlights the group of consumers who are evenly split between online and offline cell phone purchase preferences. Hawaii leads this segment with a quarter (25%) of its consumers opting for a balanced approach to shopping. States such as Washington (21%), New Hampshire (20%), Arkansas (20%), Georgia (20%), and Alaska (20%) also exhibit a preference for evenly splitting their purchases, with one-fifth of consumers opting for both online and brick-and-mortar stores. This balanced approach reflects a consumer base that appreciates the benefits offered by both channels, such as the convenience of online shopping and the tactile experience of physical retail. Interestingly, in states like South Dakota, Utah, and Nebraska, a relatively smaller percentage of the population (9% to 11%) fall into the evenly split category, indicating a more polarized preference in these regions.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for the US is nationally representative of the online population and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles