A combination of operator subsidies and the homogenisation of device design is having a negative impact on role of the OEM brand in the smartphone market. Only 10% of consumers chose a phone based on its design.
Smartphone hardware is becoming commoditized. Instead, the differentiator is increasingly seen as the data features, applications and functionality of smartphones, (34% of consumers cite this as most important when purchasing a handset).
Yet these features are still a major cause of consumer problems, in particular with the services used most on a day-to-day basis. Almost a third (24%) had problems setting up email, and 17% experience problems setting up the internet on their device.
These issues frequently lead to service abandonment. 8% of consumers give up on a service without trying to find a resolution, and 29% do not think any of the support services available to them are effective. This lack of effective user experience in turn damages the both OEM and operator brand reputation.
The key to improving brand equity lies in the control and delivery of the user experience. OEMs and operators need to focus on all touch-points that influence user experience; from the initial desire phase, to the retail experience, out-of-the-box set-up, accessibility of services and post-sale support.
Only by optimising every stage of the customer lifecycle can OEMs and operators improve brand equity.
Tim Deluca-Smith, vice president of marketing at WDSGlobal said that :
Smartphones offer operators a number of new revenue channels, but as handset design homogenises and they become increasingly subsidised, consumers have trouble differentiating between brands. There is a clear opportunity for OEMs and operators to maximise the revenue opportunities smartphones can offer, by focusing on non-hardware services. This will help raise brand equity at the same time.
Any problems consumers have in setting up services on their phones will have a negative impact on the brand loyalty. Consumers prioritise convenience when looking for support, with one in ten not even trying to find a resolution. They are extremely likely to abandon both the OEM and operator without a second thought, until they receive the user experience that matches their expectations.