Understanding Consumers at a Crossroads: Buying a Smartphone

Oct 3 2013

Understanding Consumers at a Crossroads: Buying a Smartphone

Buying a new smartphone can be difficult. Make the wrong decision on your new phone or carrier and you could be stuck for two years with something that just doesn’t work for you. With smartphones outselling feature phones for the first time in 2013, a new wave of consumers are facing a daunting decision about their first smartphone. To gain insight into this important decision, AOL’s new research study, Crossroads: The Smartphone Path to Purchase, looks at how consumers approach buying their new smartphone.

We found that consumers’ purchase decision is very personal. While 62% of buyers are sure of what carrier they will utilize, only 27% know what smartphone they are going to purchase before they start shopping. In fact, there are four distinct types of consumers, each with a different approach to buying a new smartphone. Learn more about our different kinds of shoppers: Brand Certain, Shopper Engaged, Follow the Herd and Shopcrastinators.

Other Key Insights:
• Carriers are decided on early and serve as a key source of information throughout the purchase process. Almost 70% of Verizon and AT&T buyers knew that they were going with their respective carrier before they started shopping.
• Retailers that sell smartphones serve as touch points throughout the purchase process. Whether consumers bought online or offline, they went to retail locations to interact with the phones and check prices in multiple brick-and-mortar stores. Ultimately, however, most consumers purchase their smartphone at carrier retail locations.
• Consumers heavily rely on online research (i.e. comparison sites, carrier sites) to help them decide which new smartphone to purchase. Many consumers also rely on friends and family to inform their final decision.
• Some consumers have their minds made up about their new phone, particularly iPhone buyers (66% knew they were going to purchase an iPhone before they started shopping). However, there is a lot more competition among Android smartphones and many consumers will do research beforehand or even make up their mind once they go into a store.

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