Carriers Command Consumer Loyalty
According to new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, 85% of phone buyers keep the same carrier when shopping for a new phone, compared with 63% who stick with the operating system and 41% who are smartphone-brand loyal.
“There’s a lot that goes into having more loyalty -- how I feel about the carrier overall, how much I like them. I have a feeling it has to do with the difficulty in switching,” Michael Levin, co-founder and partner at CIRP, tells Marketing Daily.
A greater affinity for consumers to operating systems over brands helps explain recent activity linking operating systems much more closely with a particular handset brand, Levin says. Apple has always been tied closely with its iOS system, but Microsoft's recent purchase of Nokia’s devices and services business and Google’s 2011 purchase of Motorola Mobility links the handset brands very closely with their operating systems.
“The operating system has more to do with learning,” Levin says. “Once you learn an operating system, it’s harder to switch.”
The strategy has obviously worked well for Apple, which has the highest percentage of repeat purchasers. On the other hand, Levin notes, BlackBerry’s handsets are linked to their own operating system, and the company -- which once dominated the market -- is struggling.
“There’s positives and negatives with having a partner and going alone,” Levin says. “Android didn’t have a hardware partner, and it’s doing fabulously. [Similarly], Samsung and LG have done well without a software lineup.”