NPD: Women and Rap Rule Ringtone Market

Mobile phone makers and operators are always touting their handsets’ and services’ ringtone capabilities, crowing they have the latest and greatest offerings so you can customize your phone to reflect your mood and personality. (Nevermind wondering how paying to play pre-recorded snippets of someone else’s music reflects your personality—it’ll make your head hurt.)

So what exactly appeals to consumers as ringtones? According to market research firm The NPD Group, rap and hip-hop ringtones account for 23 percent of ringtone downloads among more than 75,000 survy respondents. Next up: rock (17 percent), R&B (11 percent) and pop (11 percent), and alternative (8 percent).

NPD also finds younger consumers are more likely to go the whole ringtone thang. According to the survey firm’s data, 26 percent of consumers who downloaded a ringtone in July 2006 were from 13 to 17 years of age, and 22 percent were between 18 and 24. And, also in July 2006, 53 percent of consumers who downloaded ringtones were women or girls, while just 47 percent of ringtone buyers were men and boys.

“Ringtones have become very popular among consumers—especially teens and young adults who use them as personal identifiers that broadcast the type of music they want to be identified with to friends and strangers alike,” according to Neil Strother, NPD Group’s research director for mobile devices, content, and services.

When asked for their reasons for buying a particular ringtone, music preferences rule: 89 percent of ringtone buyers said they downloaded a ringtone because they liked a particular song, and 62 percent cited they liked the artist. Only 24 percent said price was a factor in their purchase, and only 7 percent said they bought a ringtone because of a recommendation from a friend or family member.

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