Smartphone brand loyalty rare

When it comes to smartphone brand loyalty, Apple and Samsung are in a class by themselves, commanding more than twice the level of consumer allegiance attained by other brands, with a combined customer loyalty rate of 69%.

According to a multinational survey carried out by IHS Markit Technology, when compared to the total smartphone market there is a loyalty rate of 53%. However, when Apple and Samsung are excluded from the total, market loyalty plunges to 33%, less than half the total for the two prominent smartphone brands.

According to IHS principal analyst consumer devices James Allison, Apple and Samsung have worked diligently over many years to build their brands, spending heavily on marketing and advertising to maintain a strong following among consumers. “As a result, these two companies have been able to erect competitive bulwarks that insulate them from the pressures faced by other brands. For companies not named Apple or Samsung, conditions in the smartphone business are intensely competitive, as they  battle over a few percentage points of market share without the benefit of a leading brand name.”

Consumers indicated their main motivation for purchasing an iPhone was to upgrade their current Apple model. A total of 27% of survey respondents who bought Apple iPhones cited a desire to upgrade as their main reason for making the purchase. This is 11 percentage points higher than the market average for all brands.

Apple’s brand familiarity among consumers is growing at a faster rate than for other smartphone makers. For the smartphone market as a whole, 22% of users cited brand familiarity as their reason for buying a smartphone in 2019, up from 19% of users who bought a phone before 2014. In contrast, Apple totaled 37% in 2019, up from 28% before 2014.

The biggest reason survey respondents cited for sticking with Apple was a desire to upgrade from a previous iPhone model with 36% naming upgrading as their main motivation.

Just as with Apple, respondents who stayed with Samsung cited upgrading a previous model as the largest single reason, with 23% naming this as their rationale. Various hardware-related reasons accounted for 27% of responses, while different cost issues were cited by 24%.

While purchasing motivations vary from country to country, brand familiarity certainly rules in the US with 32% citing brand familiarity as the cause for their purchasing decision. Brand loyalty is also strong in with 26% saying that their current handset is an upgrade of a previous model of the same brand.

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