One out of three feature phone users in India are willing to purchase a data-enabled phone in next one year, and more than half are ready to spend between $100 to $200 (roughly between Rs. 6,400 and Rs. 12,800) on a new smartphone, according to a research study by IDC. The study, titled India Smartphone Pulse, also reveals that with the growth of 4G in the country, one out of two feature phone consumers are showing strong intent to buy a 4G feature phone in next six months.
IDC highlights in the study that with the launch of new 4G feature phones, including the widely popular Jio Phone and competitive models by various other brands, the industry is attempting to bridge the pricing gap between feature phones and smartphones. Further, the availability of consumer-centric offers such as zero cost EMIs, easy exchange programmes at retail online stores are found to be some additional incentives that are persuading a large number of customers in India to upgrade their existing mobile devices.
Having said that, IDC believes that brand still remains a major decision factor among customers opting to upgrade their old smartphone - with nearly 40 percent of consumers of Samsung and Xiaomi expecting to stay brand loyal in their next purchase. Almost half of the respondents of the study done by the research firm covering 10 major Indian cities said they replace their smartphone only when it's lost or broken. This was followed by the need to get a new phone with better specifications and technology inputs like higher RAM, better camera, and more memory over the existing models, the firm said.
More than 50 percent of the respondents said they replace their phones after 18 months or more. This, however, gives an opportunity for new brands to capture the remaining 50 percent who are picking up new options and replacing their devices more frequently.
"Word of mouth and recommendation by family and friends continue to be the most prominent factors influencing the smartphone consumer's purchase decision. In Tier 1 cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, specifications and brand value are other key drivers of choice of a brand, whereas in Tier 2 and 3 cities, apart from price, consumers also prefer design and good after-sales service," stated Himanshu Jain, Market Analyst, IDC India.
Almost half of the total respondents participated in IDC's study use online portals for price comparison and more than 70 percent consumers take recommendations from their family, friends, and colleagues for brand and model choice. Also, 40 percent online consumers admitted visiting offline stores in their nearby locations before making their orders through an e-commerce store. The offline channel is found to appeal across consumer segments and "near to home" convenience plays a vital role in selecting a channel of purchase for more than 75 percent of consumers who buy from offline retailers. "In offline, around half of the consumers want to pay via cash followed by zero cost EMIs. Interestingly, 3/4th of the consumers pay via cash while buying a high-end phone above $400," adds Mehta.