Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone failed measurable against Samsung smartphones when it comes to recomemndation. Nearly 63% of smartphone buyers, who bought a smartphone in the first quarter of 2014, were recommended Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005930), while less than half voted in the favor of the Apple iPhone.
With the increase in the market of smartphones worldwide, a necessity to study the trends of the consumer attraction towards a product is vital to expand the market of a particular smartphone firm. Number of physical retail outlets alone cannot lure consumers into buying the product, there is a need to know what the customer wants from the product he is buying and what he does not, what makes him to go for a new brand ditching existing ones. He would never like to spend that sum of money onto the product which is not worth it.
Kantar Worldpanel’s ComTech’s has recently launched a retail module, across nine countries, which provides information on the key factor of the smartphone purchasing process that influences the consumer. Though this report exclusively focuses on the findings of the US smartphone market, but potentially it can give some idea for the worldwide consumers as well.
Key steps involved in the purchase of Smartphones
The growing market competition has increased the worries of smartphone companies. At a side when Average Selling Price (ASP) is declining with each passing quarter, the emergence of local players in developing market making the competition is just adding up the heat. However, this competition has resulted into a high maturity level amongst smartphone vendors, which in turn has resulted in the growing competition that has created a vicious circle of efficiency and competition.
It was found out that out of the total mobile phones sold in the US during the first quarter of 2014 , 76 percent were smartphones, and the penetration of these still continued to stand at 55 percent.
The noticeable and vital things for the firms to know was that, however aware and familiar their consumers are, they necessarily research before spending money in buying the smartphones. About 70 percent of the total people who conducted research prior to buying, were those who sought the advice and recommendation of people, and mostly relied on them. This major group of people are the ones which influence the market share of the companies. So the main focus of smartphone vendors should be to convince these influencers in order to play good in the market.
About one fifth of the people relied on the advice of the store sell assistant and about a quarter of them sought advice from friends.
The fact that most of the electronics’ showrooms are more of advising stores than selling stores, but this concern was unfounded by smartphones (according to ComTech data) as the report showed that about 64 percent purchases in the US are made from these showrooms while only 24 percent purchases were done online. This shows that people are more reliable on showrooms and mobile stores (as for being on the safer side) which is not the same with online smartphone shopping. The reason might be the trust on these authorized company showrooms that would at the best avoid counterfeiting.
Ad about smartphone is also one of the major factors that affect the pre purchase research. The more influential and clear details are about the device, more people will get to know what they want according to their requirement, hence reduce their efforts of research. Apple product ads, for example, focus on specific features of the device such as camera, screen and its other applications, which results in a higher consumer call as compared to other brands.
According to the report, Samsung is rated as the most recommended smartphone in the US. It is estimated that 63 percent of the people who bought smartphones were recommended Samsung which is more than double the recommendation for Apple and ten times that of Nokia. Out of which only 59 percent consumers actually bought Samsung smartphones while the rest went ahead with other Android devices. Also, only 6 percent of the consumers who were recommended Samsung preferred iPhone over it.
This data clearly indicates towards the popularity of Samsung against all other rivals. Although people now-a-days prefer Samsung because of more – if not better – features at a cheaper price than offered by Apple. They find this offer more profitable and pocket friendly, however the reliability on iPhone for everything is still unbeatable, keeping the monetary terms aside.
Functionality vs. physicality
Though changes in consumers’ demands have been witnessed as they have shifted more towards preferring functionality over physicality. The scree-size and mega-pixel race that had started a few years back seems to have settled down a bit. Yet the number is still not ignorable, if not most important, as 42 percent consumers mentioned screen size as the main factor that influences their buying decision, while only 30 percent mentioned about screen resolution and quality. So it is considerable that screen size, when talking about design, is still the most important drivers of consumers.
With the apparent standardization of the design there are some signs of decline in preference for particular hardware design over functionality. However the demand for a particular design is not so less to be ignored. For the vendors that focus more on the sharpness and clarity of the display, it becomes difficult to convey their message during advertising or sale process in the store as even now, what according to data, it is concluded that “bigger is better for most consumers”.
Color, another important part of the design of the smartphones, though not at very high priority, has driven many companies to focus on it. Nokia with its new Lumia series and the recent X series has brought back color in the play. Other companies like Sony, HTC, Samsung and Apple have also shifted their slight focus on the color, though very conservatively. However, it is clear from the survey that color is yet not a deciding factor. Battery life and money are yet another more important deciding factors to win the cat race of being bestselling smartphone.