Shoppers care most about network and cost when considering mobile device and service purchases. In fact, 58% said network reliability was most important; 56% said cost of data plan; 51% said cost of voice plan; and 50% said that device price was the most important consideration, according to a study released by Google.
Upgrades -- and for the most part, the need to have the latest and greatest equipment -- drove new purchases during the Google Q4 2011 study. When asked why the survey participant purchased the upgrade, 48% said they were eligible, 31% wanted the latest technology, 17% wanted to buy their first phone, 14% switched to the provider plan offering the best deal, and 14% switched for a faster and more reliable network.
Kyle Keogh, Google's tech industry director, said the most surprising insight came from a lack of consumers wanting 4G connections, for its rapid speeds and uninterrupted flow of streaming video content.
For some, research has been a lengthy process. About 48% start more than three weeks before making a purchase. Others are more compulsive. Some 28% said they make the purchase on the same day they begin research, followed by 24% within two weeks.
It's no surprise that digital content continues to become a more important part of the research process. Some 63% relied on search to research information about wireless devices before making a purchase. OEM sites followed with 48%; online customer reviews, 47%; carrier sites, 46%; and online retailers, 35%. Consumers also called on family and friends as the highest offline resource, and magazine ads for traditional.
What type of ad makes a lasting impression? After television ads, online Web sites, email ads, search engine listings -- both organic and paid search -- make a lasting impression on consumers searching for wireless devices. TV ads took the No. 1 spot with 39%, followed by online Web sites, 22%; email, 21%; and search, 14%. Online video ads came in at 13%; cell phone ads, 4%; and tablet ads, 2%.
Purchases still often occur in stores, but online activity continues to influence decisions. When asked how the consumer made the decision to purchase their most recent phone, 45% said in-store; followed by 25%, online; 24%, and 6%, other.
Sometimes the decision isn't easy. About 72% consider two or more cell phone models, and 57% research content on more than five Web sites. Search ads leading to informational landing pages could help consumers make a choice.
Keogh said about half of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, and consumers typically purchase a new one once every 1.5 years.
One interesting stat released by ABI Research this morning suggests that smartphones will drive the semiconductor market to $170 billion in revenue within five years. That's huge, by the way. More mobile phones mean more purchases -- which mean more ads.
Forrester Research Analyst Shar VanBoskirk also believes these ad-supported devices will enhance audience targeting. In the U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 To 2016, she writes: "More interactive marketing investment will spawn more ad-supported content. In time this will open the door for ad supported hardware too: big online user networks like Google and Facebook will option "freemium" devices to consumers in exchange for embedding ads into their displays." . . . Food for thought.