According to new research from CCS Insight, we Brits are increasingly showing fox-like cunning and craftiness when it comes to unbundling our phones and networks while at the same time we are experiencing phone fatigue for the latest ‘must-have’ models.
CCS Insight found that consumers were now more aware that they can buy phones and network access separately and are increasingly doing so. According to their findings only 36% of UK Sim-Only customers were expected to take a traditional bundle-plus phone deal when their current plan ends.
This figure is considerably higher for those who will simply upgrade to another SIM-Only deal. This, CCS Insight believes shows strong growth for the SIM-Only market.
Consumers are now experiencing phone fatigue. That is turning away from the latest models and looking more towards refurbished or second-hand phones to meet their needs. According to CCS one-in-twelve phones currently in use is second-hand. And a substantial 10% of UK consumers now buy directly through Amazon.
The Amazon figure is surprising and significant. And Amazon plays a large part in the overall ‘buying journey.’ We found customers who may not have bought the phone through Amazon, but who accessed Amazon to make their buying decision.- Kester Mann: Analyst, CCS Insight
According to Mr Mann, Operators who have traditionally acted as credit companies will need to make their bundles much more flexible and attractive to punters if they are to counter Amazon’s involvement.
Likewise, he says, high-margin manufacturers will need to make more use of the refurbished channel or make older models available for longer.
Currently, the refurbished market is small, accounting for just 4% of new purchases. But it is growing and likely will continue to grow particularly with well-placed avenues such as Argos and eBay as well as Amazon.
And there is clear evidence that consumers are turning away from premium-priced phones such as Apple’s iPhone X. In the survey 41% of respondents said they would never buy an iPhone. This compared to just 15% saying the same about Samsung.
This has been recognised by Apple, who are launching more models at the lower end of the price range. They have also kept the iPhone 6s on the books with support, while a refurbished iPhone SE 32GB is currently on sale at eBay for a mere £150.
The big mobile network operators have also responded to customer demands. In particular, O2 has shifted to unbundling, something it began in 2013 but stepped-up with last week’s Custom Plans initiative.
O2 has also removed the requirement for customers to take a fixed, long-term deal to get a cheaper phone, offering much more flexibility with their deals.
Back in 2014 uSwitch highlighted what it described as ‘flagship fatigue’ the following year Huawei arrived in strength. Without doubt the major players will need to respond to a maturing market where customers are now canny enough to shop around for the best and cheapest deals and certain operators have developed strategies to take advantage.
Any that don’t respond to these market forces may well find themselves in real difficulties.
Image: Osde Info