Press release

New Data Shows Cell Phones are Consumers’ Lifeline to the World During Coronavirus

Sponsored by Businesswire

Zipwhip, the first company to enable texting on existing business phone numbers, today released the findings of a survey of 1,000 businesses and consumers in New York, California and Washington state; the first regions in the nation to issue comprehensive shelter-in-place orders. The study found that not only are consumers in those states spending more time on cell phones during the coronavirus crisis and relying on them more for news and information, but they’re changing their communication habits as a result.

In a crisis, consumers use cell phones – and texting – as their main source of information

While sheltering in place with access to computers, television and/or radios, consumers are committed more than ever to their mobile devices. The majority (55%) of consumers are getting their news and alerts from their cell phone, followed by their laptop or computer (21%), television (20%), radio (3%) and print media (2%). And more specifically, 38% of consumers report getting more of their news and information through texting than they did before COVID-19.

Furthermore, when asked how they prefer to receive alerts and important notices from businesses during emergencies like the one we’re currently in, 48% of consumers said they prefer text, compared to 45% who said they prefer email, and just 7% who prefer phone calls.

Beyond wanting texts from businesses, consumers also report a desire for local public agencies to adopt texting. During a crisis, 77% of people report wanting to receive texts from local health officials, 59% want texts from police and fire departments, 57% want texts from government leaders and 48% want texts from relief agencies like the Red Cross.

Texting and screen time are up

The majority of people (56%) have been using their cell phone more since COVID-19 began, and of those people, 46% said they’re using their phone for four or more additional hours each day than before COVID-19.

In addition, the majority of people (62%) are responding more quickly to text than they were before COVID-19.

“This data shows that in a time of crisis, consumers want to simplify their communication channels and use what they know best, which is texting,” said John Lauer, CEO of Zipwhip. “Businesses across the country are struggling right now to reach their customers and maintain a revenue stream, especially when they have to close their doors. But this data confirms what we already suspected – your customers are at home and spending more time than ever on their cell phones. If you want to stay connected and continue to engage your customers, you need to use their medium of choice.”

Consumers are also using their time to proactively reach out to the businesses they frequent. A spike in customer outreach has resulted in longer wait times for people reaching out by phone – 42% of businesses say call volume has increased and 70% of consumers say they’re waiting on hold longer than usual. These data points address why consumers are likely to turn to texts, with 37% of people reporting proactively texting a business since COVID-19 began. Businesses are increasing their texting as well – 42% of consumers reported receiving a text from a business asking to reschedule an appointment due to COVID-19.

In the absence of in-person collaboration with coworkers, employees turn to text

With shelter-in-place orders closing most businesses and requiring employees to work remotely, people have had to find other ways to communicate with their teams, including texting; 41% of people are texting coworkers more frequently since COVID-19 began. And of businesses surveyed, 72% said they have used texting as a way to communicate with their employees and staff. Another 64% of businesses reported that their employees are communicating with customers while working from home.

For more information on this research, visit the Zipwhip blog:


Zipwhip surveyed 500 consumers and 500 businesses for this report. We surveyed each participant individually and blind from a purchased panel sample through SurveyMonkey. All respondents are from either New York, California or Washington state and followed a census breakdown of gender and age. The survey was run in April 2020. No participants were compensated for their participation.

About Zipwhip

Zipwhip was the first company to enable texting on existing business phone numbers, and today is the world’s leading business-texting software and API provider. More than 35,000 companies use Zipwhip to increase customer engagement and drive growth through texting on their existing landline, VoIP or toll-free phone number. Intuitive cloud-based software, an enterprise-grade API and direct network connectivity mean businesses can use any computer or mobile device to securely and reliably reach their customers, every time. Your customers are only a text away: