According to a recent Pew Research report released last month, there is a significant consumer sector that still is not on the Internet or using a smartphone. While the percentage of American adults who use the Internet has grown exponentially over time (Pew researchers tracked usage from 1995 to 2014, with percentage growth from 14 percent to 87 percent respectively), the number of users is nowhere near 100 percent. In fact, today there are around 13 percent of adults in the U.S. (which translates roughly to around 38 million people) who do not use the Internet. Not surprisingly, the majority of this group is over the age of 65. However, small business marketers should take note that in younger consumer sectors, the number of offline Americans hovers around 7 percent as well.

Actual smartphone usage is even more surprising, with only around 58 percent of Americans owning these mobile devices. Of course, Pew Research Center looked at a much shorter duration for the smartphone trend (as they haven’t been around as long), with 35 percent of adult Americans owning one in 2011 compared to the 58 percent in 2014.

Interestingly, Pew Research Center conducted a study looking at offline Americans at the end of last year. According to this particular study, the main reason people gave for not using the Internet is a lack of relevance in their lives (34 percent of those surveyed cited this). This is despite the fact that 23 percent of offline adults live in a household where there is an Internet connection available. Another main driver for non-use is usability, with 32 percent saying they don’t use the Internet because they find it frustrating or difficult to navigate. Other reasons for not using the Internet include price (19 percent) and availability and/or access (7 percent).

While age, education, and income all seem to be factors among non-users, it is also interesting to note this is not just a rural demographic. Among urban residents, 14 percent are offline.


Fox, Susannah, and Rainie, Lee. “The Web at 25 in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. 2/27/14.

Zickuhr, Kathryn, and Rainie, Lee. “7 Things to Know about Offline Americans.” Pew Research Center. 11/29/13.