What Motivates Mobile Phone Buyers? It's Not Just Price
What motivates buyers when they choose a new mobile phone? Many factors come into play, of course, but having the desired capabilities and a flip-phone form factor rise to the top most often, according to recent NPD data.
With a couple of exceptions, buyers have ranked these two criteria highest (roughly 40 percent) over the past seven quarters. That’s testament to the fact that experienced phone buyers know what they want in a phone and make purchases based on these factors.
The third most often cited reason for choosing a particular phone is that it is a “good brand,” which again reflects a mature market. Buyers have obviously come to trust certain handset makers over others.A low price, as it turns out, is not all that important. In fact, low price came in twelfth among all criteria in the fourth quarter of 2006. That said, while consumers are reluctant to cite a low price as a reason for purchasing a particular handset, consumers can certainly be de-motivated to purchase if a price is too high.
Age Groups and Purchase Motivators
Age can play a role as well in the purchase of a handset. Among the various age groups, different profiles emerge based on the top purchase motivator. For example, buyers 18 to 24 chose “it’s a cool phone” as their top motivator for buying a handset during the last year. Those 25 to 44 most often chose “had the capabilities I wanted.” And consumers 45 and older chose “flip phone / can be closed” as their top criterion for purchase.
Based on age and the top purchase motivator, three distinct target groups emerge:
Aside from age, some interesting motivational differences also emerge when it comes to the consumer’s gender. Women more so than men, tend to be motivated more by easy-to-use flip phones and price considerations (see chart). By comparison men are more likely than women are to care more about having the latest technology, a highly regarded brand, long battery life, and the key capabilities and features they want. In short, men lean toward the latest and greatest phones, while women tend to be a bit more practical and price sensitive than their male counterparts when it comes to mobile phone handset purchases.
Of course it’s not all about functionality or form factors when it comes to what motivates buyers. People tend to know what capabilities work best for them, too. For vendors to maximize their success, they must strive to match up the motivations of particular demographic groups with the phone that matches their purchase criteria. Some manufacturers have been more successful at doing so than others. Those offering a wide array of flip phones, for example, have tended to have greater success in this market than those with limited flip-phone portfolios.
Bottom line: Understanding what really motivates mobile phone buyers is crucial to a manufacturer’s or a carrier’s success in the handset market.
- NPD's Wireless Research Team© 2007 The NPD Group