Application brands sway handset decisions

Branding is becoming an increasingly important tool in the battle for customer loyalty, something which Apple has exploited successfully in its assault on the mobile space. But research released this week reveals how the rise of content and application brands are now altering the mobile landscape.

Following on from a survey of 27,000 UK consumers, research firm TNS discovered that almost one quarter of users are now placing their loyalties with content and application brands like Facebook, Twitter and Google – that’s the same amount that are primarily loyal to their operator.

The handset manufacturers needn’t worry just yet however, as device brands such as Nokia, Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry (RIM) are still the biggest driver (51 per cent) when it comes to consumer brand commitment.

The single most important factor in handset choice remains look and feel (29 per cent) but available applications and content – games, music and maps perhaps – ties for second place with handset brand (13 per cent). However, this figure rises to 37 per cent among consumers aged 16 to 30.

According to TNS, almost a fifth (19 per cent) of UK users are regularly downloading applications to their devices.

These figures show an interesting shift in how consumers are shopping for devices, but that shift is less apparent when all factors are taken into account. When all aspects of a device are considered, apps sink to the bottom of the list, with consumers more easily swayed by look and feel, handset brand, touchscreen, and interestingly, which operating system it sports.

According to Stephen Yap, group director at TNS Technology: “As uptake and usage of mobile services proliferates, we are seeing profound changes in the way that people make purchase decisions and in the brands that are the most meaningful to them.  While established handset makers are standing their ground, network operators are clearly under pressure from the rise of the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter.  These content providers are increasingly capturing consumers’ loyalties and are leading the way in bringing users the benefits of the latest mobile technologies.”


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