In the golden era of technology, gadgets have become increasingly consumable as shoppers now upgrade to the latest models and versions well before there is any technical need to do so. Despite the latest designer smartphone brands continuing to seemingly fly off the shelves, recent studies suggest that the average replacement cycle is in fact projected to slow down globally from 28 months currently recorded in 2018, to 34 months by 2020.
So why are people holding on to their smartphones longer? To some extent, this has clearly been driven by higher price points that make each purchase more valuable to both retailers and brands. In light of these industry trends, Retail Marketing Group conducted a survey with over 500 consumers who were asked about their motivations for purchasing smartphones and laptops.
The study found that approximately one third of the respondents found battery life and device reliability vital when buying a smartphone. It also found that a quarter of shoppers were influenced by handset and monthly bill costs. Perhaps most surprisingly, less than one in ten felt that style was an important factor when buying a smartphone, with only one in six influenced by a brand.
Following a similar trend to laptops
While these changes in the replacement cycle are currently only marginal, the evidence suggests that we may see smartphones eventually follow the same trend as laptops, which are now replaced on average every six years.
The same study found that 45% of shoppers chose price as the main factor when purchasing a new laptop. Around one third of respondents cited reliability and performance as main drivers, while brand loyalty (12%), consumer reviews (6%), style (4%), portability (4%) and software bundles (3%) were relegated far lower down the list.
This data overwhelmingly suggests that both smartphone and laptop shoppers are driven primarily by device reliability and affordability, as opposed to brand name and style. This presents a new opportunity to traditional brick and mortar retailers, who are under increasing pressure to deliver a flawless shopping experience.
The most effective way to accomplish this is by creating a consumer journey that is more personalised and interactive. The latest smartphone for example is far more impressive when you can witness its features first-hand through a product demonstration conducted by in-store brand ambassadors who are armed with a plethora of knowledge, enthusiasm for the technology and the desire to convert a warm lead to a sale.
Change with the times
With smartphones and laptops establishing themselves as high-end products that are purchased with more consideration, the race is on to connect with consumers to demonstrate their value. By striking the perfect balance between technology and human interaction, the brands that deploy brand ambassadors will be far more likely to enjoy success through long-lasting sales. The time to make this change is now, with 2018 widely hailed as the year in which customer experience surpasses price as the deciding factor that converts sales this peak season and beyond.
Andy Boothroyd is the business development director at the Retail Marketing Group