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It’s All About the Phones, Or Is It? What Are the Reasons For Purchasing A Specific Model?

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If you’re reading this on your mobile phone, please stop and ask yourself, “why did I buy this particular model?”  Is it an Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Google, TCL, OnePlus, or a lesser-known brand that most of the non-exclusive dealers sell?  Is it new?  Refurbished?  Did you get device protection, or insurance, when you acquired it?  Did it come “kitted” with a charging cord and cube or just the handset?  What about white-labeled products and influencers attaching their name to a phone on social media.  Did that help sway you? Finally, what was your thinking when you picked the color (and then most likely covered it with a case!)?

A lot of factors played into your decision process that led to one of the most important products in your life being held in your hand.  The phone manufacturers and carriers literally spend billions in marketing and advertising hoping that their message gets through, and you buy their product.  There are way too many features and benefits of every phone to do a true model-by-model comparison; let’s focus on the four most important features that wireless customers look at during the buying process.

Why do people choose one phone over another – is it camera, battery life, screen size, or processor? 

Why Do We Buy Phones?

My friend and colleague Jeff Moore is the Principal at Wave 7 Research (About Wave7 Research - Wave7 Research).  Wave7 Research is dedicated to giving its clients an in-depth knowledge of what is going on in the U.S. wireless market, including postpaid and prepaid competition, as well as smartphone sales.  Jeff has two decades of telecom experience, including 13 years of competitive intelligence.

Jeff’s firm recently asked retail sales personnel what is the primary feature of smartphones that is most important for determining the choice of one model over another. Here are the statistics:

The camera easily is the most important factor for choosing a given smartphone model, 60% said it was the #1 factor. Ninety percent (90%) cited the camera as being one of the two top factors. 

The screen size was a distant second, 57% citing it as the #1 or #2 factor, and only 25% citing it as the top factor. 

In third place…..battery life with 12% of the sales folks reps mentioning it. 

And remember how important the processor used to be?  It was mentioned by only 3% as being important to the decision of buying a phone.

Let’s review, what were the most important factors in purchasing a smartphone:

  • Camera 60%
  • Screen Size 25%
  • Battery Life 12%
  • Processor 3%

Camera quality is something nearly every phone buyer asks about, an AT&T rep said that customers see their phones as having two basic purposes, operation as a phone and operation as a camera. A couple of reps said that camera quality has become so advanced, that they can do what only professional-grade cameras could do in the past. A Verizon rep said that “the camera is always a wildly popular feature on any new phone that comes out,” in part because OEMs significantly update cameras with each iteration and hype the changes. The newest iPhones and Galaxy phones “have impeccable cameras and people seem to be pretty excited about them.” Another rep said that camera quality is especially important among younger customers, in part because young people post a lot of pictures and videos on social media. “Everyone thinks they're a photographer now,” quipped a T-Mobile rep.

Screen size was the second most important factor, one rep saying that there were many elderly customers in his area who need a large screen due to poor eyesight. An AT&T rep said screen size was very important, as people use their phones for so many applications that they want the screen to be able to handle every application and use. 

Battery life is very important, a Verizon rep said, as customers want to be able to stay in touch without a lot of “charging maintenance.” Another rep said this splits to some extent as Apple versus Samsung, as fans of battery life are likely to choose the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, while fans of camera quality are likely to choose GS22 devices. Also, that “techies” tend to care disproportionately about battery life and processor speeds.  

The processor is important, a Verizon rep said, as the processor helps with connectivity and 5G, allowing customers to get service anywhere, which has been more important since the start of the pandemic. A T-Mobile rep said that many customers do not even know what a processor is, much less do they choose their phone based on processor performance. 

As a side note, Reps were asked whether they are seeing solid demand for foldable phones; 77% denied seeing solid demand. Reps generally said that while there was some early demand for the Galaxy Z devices, demand has fallen.

Jeff Moore and his team do an outstanding job and this is just the tip of the iceberg of information that he provides.  Jeff will be at the All Wireless and Prepaid Show in Las Vegas this August. (All Wireless & Prepaid Expo 2022 (allwirelessexpo.com)

So What’s the Takeaway?

So now you have a baseline for what your customers are asking for.  That being said, are you carrying the right models to best serve their needs?  It’s always been said that successful companies listen to their customers.  If you are not surveying your dealers or sales reps on customer feedback, or really scrutinizing reports from your point of sale systems, you may be missing opportunities.  

Let’s Move On To Another Hot Topic Regarding Handsets, New vs. Used

CPO….Certified Pre Owned.  Should you buy one?  Do you sell them?

Certified pre-owned items are in near-perfect condition and are resold for a reduced cost. The average person isn’t usually able to tell the difference between a CPO model and a brand new model. If the item is not deemed to be in near factory-level condition by technicians, it will not be marketed as certified pre-owned by the dealer. 

There are two reasons why you should consider purchasing pre-owned equipment: money and value for money.

Many of us fork out thousands to get a brand new model of whatever we want, often putting ourselves into debt. Purchasing quality used equipment saves a lot of money and is almost as good as purchasing new for just a fraction of the cost, depending on the model. (Refurbished vs CPO: What’s the difference and which one should I go for? - Mobitronics)

In their July 2021 edition, Consumer Reports gave examples of buying new or CPO Apple and Galaxy products with average savings between $250-$300 per phone.  And not surprisingly, according to a spring 2018 survey, Consumer Reports members have been generally satisfied with purchases like those, not to mention their overall shopping experience:

“Among the 3,211 people who reported buying a refurbished phone since Jan. 1, 2016, 82 percent said they were highly satisfied with the product. In fact, in our survey, 67 percent of the owners of refurbished phones said they had no complaints. That’s just a hair less than the 69 percent of new smartphone owners who said the same thing.” Should You Buy a Refurbished Phone? - Consumer Reports

Overall, the number one reason for someone buying a CPO or even a refurbished phone is simple….. budget.  Customers love having the latest gadgets, smartphones included, but many can’t afford the $1000+ models or don't want to go through the financing piece.  CPO and refurbished are great alternatives.  But as I said last time, Caveat Emptor……. Let the Buyer Beware.  The major carriers and most MVNOs sell Certified Previous Owned phones on their websites.  If you deal with a reputable company, the value is there for buying these vs. new models.

Atrium Unlimited Consulting (AtriumUnlimited.com) has clients and strong relationships with legitimate and trustworthy providers of CPO smartphones.  Give us a call and I’ll put you in touch with the right people so you can start offering quality phones at a great price to your customers.

Good Selling!

Jon



Jon Horovitz
Jon Horovitz has been in the wireless industry as a senior executive for 31+ years. He headed up sales and operations in leadership roles for McCaw Communications, AT&T Wireless, Nextel, Boost Mobile, and Sprint. He has owned an MVNO as well as assisted in the start-up of many others. His consulting company, Atrium Unlimited, LLC advises carriers, MVNOs, investment bankers, and venture capitalists interested in joining the wireless space. Jon would love to hear from you about any consultative needs you may have. Please visit https://AtriumUnlimited.com



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